NOU 2016: 8

A Good Ally: Norway in Afghanistan 2001–2014

To table of content

Part 3

13 Norway’s objectives and results

The Norwegian government had three explicit, overarching objectives for its engagement in Afghanistan. Over time these were emphasised and expressed in different ways. The first and most important objective throughout the Norwegian engagement was the Alliance dimension: to support the US and, later, to help to safeguard NATO’s continued relevance. This objective was directly linked to key Norwegian interests and seen as essential for Norwegian security. The second objective was to assist in the ‘war on terror’ by preventing Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorist activities. The third objective was to help to build a stable and democratic Afghan state through various forms of development assistance and to promote a peaceful solution to the conflict. The Norwegian authorities portrayed involvement in Afghanistan as a battle fought together with the US and NATO, against international terror and for a better Afghanistan.

Overall, these objectives have only been partially achieved. Three components of the Norwegian engagement were essential for realising the aims: the effort in Faryab, special forces and intelligence, and peace diplomacy.

Norway largely achieved the first objective of confirming its role as a solid and reliable ally. The engagement in Afghanistan helped both to maintain Norway’s traditionally good relations with the US and to ensure the continued relevance of the transatlantic alliance. The Norwegian contribution, in the form of special forces and military intelligence as well as peace diplomacy, were of particular significance in strengthening relations with the US.

As the Commission sees it, the objective of helping to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists was only partially achieved. The ‘war on terror’ was controversial. There have been no new international terror attacks originating from Afghanistan. However, international terror groups are still active in the country, and the situation in Afghanistan must be seen within the context of such activities in its neighbouring countries and in the Middle East.

The third objective, to build a stable and democratic Afghan state, has not been achieved. Although international and Norwegian aid has produced results, Afghanistan has become one of the world’s most aid-dependent countries, and the influx of aid has contributed to widespread corruption. The conflicts within the country have become increasingly violent and in 2015 civilian casualties were the highest yet. Independent of these overarching objectives, the engagement in Afghanistan has generated change and development in Norway at both the military and the civilian levels, resulting in increased professionalisation, organisational development and a shift in priorities.

The conflict and the international operation have been costly. The people of Afghanistan have suffered greatly. The number of civilians killed has steadily increased. Though there are no reliable figures for the human or monetary costs between 2001 and 2014, it has been estimated that the number of people killed may exceed 90,000. The total Afghanistan-related international military expenditure is estimated at more than USD 700 billion and international development aid at USD 57 billion. The Norwegian contribution has accounted for a very small proportion of the total resources spent. Over 9,000 Norwegian military personnel served in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. Ten Norwegian soldiers lost their lives and many were seriously wounded. Norway spent roughly NOK 20 billion (USD 3.17 billion) during this period: some NOK 11.5 billion (USD 1.83 billion) for military purposes and NOK 8.4 billion (USD 1.33 billion) for civilian purposes.1 This amounted to approximately 0.26 per cent of the total international military expenditure and 2.3 per cent of the total official development assistance (ODA) contribution. Figure 13.1 compares the Norwegian and Danish engagements.

In this chapter the Commission summarises its findings with regard to the overarching objectives for the Norwegian engagement. In the final part of the chapter the Commission summarises the main changes at the civilian and military levels that this involvement led to during the period. The Commission’s recommendations regarding possible lessons for further changes are discussed in Chapter 14.

13.1 Relations with the US and NATO’s relevance

Maintaining good relations with the US and ensuring NATO’s relevance and strength have been key Norwegian security policy objectives since 1949. In the autumn of 2001 there was broad-based political agreement in Norway to show solidarity with the US after the 11 September terror attacks. This included support for US actions. A week after the attacks, outgoing Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg pledged ‘Norway’s full support, both politically and practically, to US actions to combat terrorism’.2 Afghanistan became the most important arena for this support. With NATO’s enhanced role in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and subsequent takeover of it in 2003, solidarity with the Alliance became a key motivation for Norwegian participation in Afghanistan. By May 2003 the second Bondevik Government had decided to prioritise NATO and ISAF over the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

The broad-based domestic political consensus in the autumn of 2001 lasted for the most part throughout the entire period up to 2014. ‘In together, out together’ became the guiding principle for Norwegian efforts. While there was special emphasis on support for the US early in the period, in general the Norwegian authorities were more interested in promoting relations with the US and NATO than what emerged from the public debate. When the Socialist Left Party (SV) joined the second Stoltenberg Government in 2005 and the decision was taken to discontinue participation in OEF, some of the more heated public debate subsided. No serious objections were raised regarding the Norwegian governments’ support for participation in ISAF and for NATO, although opinion polls showed that the public was divided on military involvement.

The US authorities saw participation in the military operations as the most important means by which other countries could demonstrate their support for the ‘war on terror’ and for promoting a stable Afghanistan. This was also the case later with NATO. Norwegian authorities therefore focused their attention primarily on contributing requested military forces, as did most NATO member countries. As time went on, the US and NATO, as well as the UN and Afghan authorities, began to ask for more development assistance and support for state-building. This was advantageous for Norway, since military participation was a more problematic issue for the second Stoltenberg Government from 2005 than it had been for the second Bondevik Government.

13.1.1 Military contribution

The military involvement in Afghanistan was extensive and thus posed challenges for the Norwegian armed forces in general, as well as to specific individual units. Parts of the Norwegian military struggled hard to maintain the committed level of forces, which indicates the high priority that the Norwegian authorities gave to participation in Afghanistan. But the Norwegian contribution in Afghanistan comprised only a small part of a comprehensive international military presence. With the partial exception of the activities in Faryab province, Norway had no illusions that Norwegian forces alone could change the situation or developments in Afghanistan. The Norwegian forces were part of an international effort and international military strategy.

The US determined the overall strategy, although NATO also took important initiatives. On some issues Norway sought to influence the formulation of strategy in NATO. For example, the Norwegian authorities advocated a policy requiring a clear separation between civilian and military activities, but met with little support. Nonetheless, Norway implemented this policy in its own activities. The result was that the Norwegian authorities approved a NATO strategy that its own forces in Afghanistan were instructed not to follow. This created a difficult situation, particularly for the commanders of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Meymaneh.

Figure 13.1 Comparison of Norwegian and Danish engagements

Figure 13.1 Comparison of Norwegian and Danish engagements

Demonstrating to Washington and Brussels that Norway was a capable contributor was more important in Norwegian decision-making than assessments of the potential effects Norway’s relatively small contributions would have in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, from 2007 to 2012 the development of the security situation in Faryab played a significant role in determining which forces Norway would deploy. The decision to limit the geographical area in Afghanistan where Norwegian forces could be deployed was a political decision.

13.1.2 Norway in the north and south

The decision to support NATO in expanding ISAF’s area of responsibility and the desire for relevance and visibility won out over the scepticism expressed in military and development assistance circles when, in February 2005, the government decided to take responsibility for the PRT in Meymaneh in Faryab province. Norway had long been encouraged by the US and other allies, as well as by UN representatives, to take command of a PRT.

The decision to take command of a PRT became part of a broader Norwegian strategic decision to focus on northern Afghanistan. One reason was that it would be less costly and more efficient to support the Norwegian forces if they were as geographically concentrated as possible. The point was also made that northern Afghanistan was less hazardous than southern Afghanistan, indicating that the risk to Norwegian soldiers was a main consideration.

The decision to concentrate forces in the north was taken before the change of government in 2005. This move became an issue once again when internal strife surfaced within the incoming government regarding whether Norway should deploy forces to the south as well.

As an opposition party, the Socialist Left had supported Norwegian participation in ISAF, but had criticised contributions to OEF and what the party called a US war of aggression in Afghanistan. However, the expansion of ISAF to encompass southern and eastern Afghanistan in 2006 led the party to view ISAF as part of this aggression, too. This put the party’s support of ISAF under pressure. Like most NATO member countries, Norway was repeatedly asked to deploy forces to the south. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defence recommended sending forces to support the allies in southern Afghanistan in both October 2006 and September 2007. The Socialist Left Party opposed this and prevailed.

The Commission has found that declining these requests (i.e. deciding to limit Norway’s role) did not have serious or lasting consequences for Norway’s relations with the coalition or its standing in NATO. According to the Norwegian, UK and US sources the Commission has spoken with, frustration with Norway’s reticence to engage more deeply was moderate and short-lived.

Nor did Norway’s self-imposed restrictions have long-term repercussions in the overall NATO context. The NATO countries that were active in southern Afghanistan – primarily the US, the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Denmark – clearly formed an ‘inner circle’ within NATO for decisions on Afghanistan. The significance of this arrangement is often exaggerated, however; it applied specifically to Afghanistan and did not signal the emergence of any new inner core within NATO in general.

The situation in northern Afghanistan and Norwegian measures in all likelihood helped to curb critical reactions. The deteriorating security situation in 2007 in Faryab and northern Afghanistan at large allowed the Norwegian authorities to demonstrate that the limitation placed on Norwegian forces was purely geographical and not a lack of willingness to take risks. Moreover, the Commission’s hearings and consultations indicate that the activities of the Norwegian Special Forces and Norwegian Intelligence Service in Kabul from 2007, in particular, played a key role in how the US, the Allies and Afghan authorities perceived Norway’s military involvement.

13.1.3 Special forces and intelligence

The activities of the Norwegian Special Forces and the Norwegian Intelligence Service in Afghanistan were critical to Norway’s success in strengthening its relations with the US and NATO. While this may, in part, be attributed to the independent activities of the special forces and Intelligence Service in their own right, it was the close cooperation between the two, and the results this yielded, that garnered the greatest attention from the allies.

The ‘war on terror’ has led the US to give greater emphasis to developing cooperation with the special forces of other countries. In a NATO context, Afghanistan has been the primary arena for such cooperation and Norway has played an active role. Bilaterally, Norway has developed close cooperation with the US on counter-terror and other special forces operations at the inter-governmental level, as well as in tactical and operational terms. According to the Commission’s sources, few other countries have achieved a similar scope of cooperation. While Afghanistan is not the sole basis for this, it has been important. The operation in Afghanistan showed that Norwegian Special Forces have become a sought-after contribution in allied operations and thus an important tool in national security policy.

Similarly, the US has attached great importance to intelligence cooperation targeted at international terror. The Norwegian Intelligence Service currently takes part in signals intelligence cooperation targeting international terror. Cooperation in this collaborative group has gained a wider significance, in large part due to the experience of Afghanistan. Since Norway’s contribution in Afghanistan remained relatively small, it is reasonable to assume that the focus was on quality not quantity. For Norwegian intelligence, the engagement in Afghanistan led to an expansion of the existing cooperation with the US intelligence community. The National Security Agency (NSA) has been an especially important partner for the Norwegian Intelligence Service, both historically and in Afghanistan, and remains so today.

In addition to this, the Norwegian Special Forces made important contributions to building up the Afghan police Crisis Response Unit 222 (CRU 222), which is discussed in Section 13.3 on state-building.

13.2 The ‘war on terror’ and Norwegian security

In addition to providing support to Norway’s most important ally, the Norwegian government decided early on to prioritise the US-led ‘war on terror’, which was triggered by the attacks on the US on 11 September 2001. Norway’s objectives were twofold: to participate in a combined international effort against a common threat and to defend its own national security. Early in the period, this focus was a result of concerns about new attacks by international terrorists based in Afghanistan against Norway and other countries.

Although combatting international terror remained an objective for Norwegian engagement throughout the period, the Norwegian government toned down this focus after 2002–2003, until towards the end of the involvement when it once again stressed its significance. These changes reflected the shifting priorities of US strategy. The original objective had become too narrow a basis for what eventually evolved into an extensive engagement. Military actions targeting al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other groups in the period 2001–2003 had severely weakened the military threat they posed in Afghanistan. This, together with the emergence of a new Afghan state, meant that the risk of Afghanistan once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists did not appear imminent.

Moreover, the ‘war on terror’ quickly became controversial. The Bush administration presented it as a conflict without boundaries in time or place, in which pre-emptive attacks were justified and ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ were permitted. Revelations of prisoner abuse, particularly in Iraq but also at Bagram and at other bases in Afghanistan, also provoked debate on the ‘war on terror’ in Norway. The controversial aspects of the ‘war on terror’ were part of the reason why the second Bondevik Government chose to prioritise ISAF over OEF, and why the second Stoltenberg Government that came to power in 2005 terminated participation in OEF.

Towards the end of the period, combatting international terror once again became a key motive. This seemed, however, to be more of an attempt to highlight an area where efforts in Afghanistan could be considered relatively successful, thereby laying the foundation for an exit strategy. Instead of being an argument for Norway’s need to contribute, it was used to describe what NATO and Norway had achieved. As Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide stated in the Storting (Norwegian parliament) on 4 June 2013: ‘ISAF – with a clear mandate from the UN Security Council – will have completed its main mission by the end of 2014. Afghanistan is no longer a hotbed of international terrorism.’3 His successor Børge Brende also expressed the same view in his address to the Storting on Afghanistan on 5 June 2014: ‘The international community had a collective responsibility to make sure that Afghanistan could no longer be a hotbed of international terrorism, and we have succeeded in this task.’4

In the view of the Commission, the objective of preventing Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists has only been partially achieved. There have been no new international terror attacks originating from Afghanistan. However, international terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State (IS or Daesh) are present in parts of Afghanistan and may be able to fortify their position in areas under tenuous government control. The presence of international terrorist groups in Afghanistan must be understood in a broader perspective, not least in relation to the situation in Pakistan, as well as to the position of militant Islamist movements in the Middle East, North Africa and globally.

13.3 State-building: development aid, the PRT and peace diplomacy

Like other national contributions to Afghanistan, a primary objective behind Norway’s development assistance was to contribute to building a democratic and, in the long term, well-functioning and economically independent Afghan state. ISAF’s role was to provide the security that would allow for state-building. Norwegian military efforts within ISAF must consequently be seen as part of the state-building project. In addition to the PRT, this involved the building up of the Afghan police Crisis Response Unit 222 (CRU 222). CRU 222, which Norwegian Special Forces are still supporting, represents as of June 2016 one of the few lasting results of Norwegian military involvement in Afghanistan. Today the unit is important both for the ability of the Afghan authorities to respond to attacks on Kabul and for the security of the international presence more generally.

At the end of 2014, the international and Norwegian state-building efforts had achieved some results compared to the situation in 2001, when much of Afghanistan lay in ruins after decades of civil war. Significant infrastructure had been established, educational programmes were better, maternal and child mortality was lower, and freedom of expression and freedom of the press were relatively well-established. Afghanistan had carried out a number of elections. However, compared to the most ambitious goals to achieve a peaceful, democratic development, the results were nevertheless disappointing, not least in light of the significant resources invested in the project. The war continued with growing intensity, threatening to undo the results achieved.

Norway’s relations with the US and its status in NATO and the UN were important factors in shaping Norwegian development assistance and peace diplomacy efforts in Afghanistan. The extent of aid to the country must therefore also be regarded in part as adherence to the Norwegian government’s objective to be a good ally and generous donor.

Norwegian development assistance and peace diplomacy traditions have also been important. The high priority given to these is rooted in value-based policy and in Norway’s underlying interest in using activities in these areas to build relations and enhance its international reputation. This was demonstrated in various ways in Afghanistan. One was Norway’s emphasis on Afghan ownership. Another was the principled and clear separation between civilian and military activities. A third was the objective of spending equal amounts on civilian and military activities. A fourth was peace diplomacy, on which Norway chose to focus at a time when it was still not widely accepted that dialogue was necessary or desirable. All of these show that there was space for independent action in Norway’s involvement in Afghanistan.

Norway sought to influence the international aid agenda much as it had done in the military sphere. The US dominated the civilian efforts as well, providing nearly half of all aid and thus setting the course for the overall international approach. Compared to its military contribution, however, Norway’s civilian effort was relatively large. Although Norwegian civilian aid comprised only around 2.3 per cent of the total ODA contribution to Afghanistan, Norway was the ninth-largest aid donor. In comparison, the Norwegian military contribution amounted to just 0.26 per cent of estimated total expenditure. Moreover, whereas the Norwegian military contribution operated under a unified command, development aid was subject to few such constraints. Thus, Norwegian authorities exerted greater influence in civilian activities than in the military effort, relatively speaking.

Norwegian authorities took advantage of the available scope for independent action, particularly in prioritised areas such as education, human rights and, to some extent, gender equality. By cooperating with like-minded countries (primarily the Nordic countries, but also the Netherlands and others in the Nordic+ framework), Norwegian diplomats were at times visible actors who helped to reinforce the international focus on freedom of expression, gender equality and the education of teachers. The development of this aid diplomacy has been an important component of Norway’s Afghanistan involvement.

13.3.1 Norwegian assistance and Afghan ownership

From an early stage Norway’s goal was for the Afghan authorities to take responsibility for development and state-building to the greatest extent possible. From a development point of view, this was a sound policy objective, but it proved unrealistic to achieve. Afghan ownership meant, among other things, that aid should be channelled through the Afghan national budget, and that Afghan plans and priorities should guide the activities. The Norwegian government channelled funding to the Afghan national budget via the World Bank Multi-Donor Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and supported the authorities through various UN-led programmes. In cooperation with other like-minded countries, and in contrast to the US and other major donors, Norway emphasised the importance of supporting Afghan authorities. Yet roughly 35 per cent of Norwegian civilian aid still went to non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Wider dispersal of funding was a step in spreading risk and reaching out to areas with weak local authorities. At the same time it was also assumed that all of Norway’s partners followed the authorities’ development plans.

As requested by the Afghan authorities and based on traditional Norwegian development assistance practice, the Norwegian authorities distributed the funds across several areas. Chief among these were education, rural development and good governance, with women’s rights and gender equality as a cross-cutting theme. Flexibility and optimal coordination with Afghan authorities and other donors were stressed. As the aid volume expanded, so did the pressure on administrative capacity. Norwegian authorities addressed this by prioritising multi-donor funds and reducing the number of agreements with other partners.

The Commission understands that there were good reasons behind the initial distribution of the civilian effort across large and important sectors. Norway had experience in these areas, it was well aligned with the broader allocation of areas of responsibility among donors, and it appeared to allow the flexibility and adaptability called for to accommodate the changing needs of the Afghan authorities. Given the weakness of the administrative capacity, however, Norwegian authorities could have achieved more if they had set clearer priorities between the various sectors.

13.3.2 State-building, the PRT and clear separation of civilian and military activities

Strengthening the Afghan state at the local level was a central aim of the international state-building activities. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) were introduced as the instrument for achieving this objective in three areas: security, governance and development. Different countries chose different approaches regarding the manner and degree of support the PRT provided for the establishment of local institutions. In addition to the logic behind the PRT approach in itself, force protection concerns led many countries to direct most of their aid funds to the province where they had a PRT. The broader goal was to ensure development in ‘their’ province, as well as providing security through rapid social and economic development. As a result of the PRTs and later the counter-insurgency (COIN) approach, much of the aid ended up being linked to the military activities rather than being used for more long-term development goals. Together with inadequate knowledge of local politics and power struggles, the PRT structure of ISAF served to undermine rather than to achieve the objective of building a centrally governed Afghan state.

Norway attached importance to ensuring an even distribution of development aid to Afghanistan. In the Faryab strategy of 2009, Norway set a ceiling of twenty per cent as the maximum amount of Norwegian assistance that could go to Faryab. Long before this the Norwegian authorities had introduced the policy of separation between civilian and military activities as part of the foundation for the Norwegian-led PRT. While this had its basis in established aid policy principles, it proved difficult to implement given the complexity of the situation. In practice the separation was often unclear or impossible to achieve, leading to frustration and misunderstandings between civilians and military personnel.

From 2008 ISAF prescribed clearer guidelines stipulating that the Norwegian PRT, too, was to incorporate coordinated civilian and military activities as a basis for COIN operations. This made it even more difficult for the PRT commander to adhere to the strict policy of keeping civilian and military activities separate, as instructed by Norwegian authorities. The Norwegian policy of separation was partially undermined when US forces with substantial development funds came to Faryab in 2010 and made these funds available to the Norwegian PRT as well.

As a result, of the PRT’s three pillars of security, governance and development, it was only within the realm of security that the Norwegian PRT was able to fully comply with the ISAF approach. From 2009, in accordance with ISAF guidelines, the Norwegian PRT focused more on training Afghan security forces. The Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLTs) played an important role in the effort to enhance the capacity of Afghan authorities to provide their own security. Building up Afghan security forces had been a main international objective since 2001, but did not become a core part of the international effort until 2009, when ISAF assumed responsibility for most of the training.

The security situation in Faryab worsened towards the end of the decade and beyond. In Faryab, too, the Afghan security forces – both the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) – were weak. There is little reason to believe that choosing the Norwegian approach as opposed to a different approach was an important factor in the larger picture here. According to some NGOs, the Norwegian policy of separation helped to protect the humanitarian space and provide greater opportunity for aid organisations to target long-term efforts. Norwegian-supported NGOs and programmes continue to operate in the province. In this way the policy may have been beneficial, as it stressed that civilian aid was legitimate on its own, independent of the military effort. However, the Norwegian authorities did not take adequate steps to clarify the potential consequences of the Norwegian policy to keep civilian and military activities separate for the involvement in Afghanistan. It was largely left to the deployed civilian and military personnel to find practical solutions to the challenges created by the underlying political guidelines.

13.3.3 Civil–military parity

In December 2007 the Norwegian government decided to increase aid to Afghanistan to NOK 750 million (USD 119 million) annually over a five-year period. The purpose of this was to raise the budget for civilian expenditure to a level equal to that of military expenditure. The decision was part of the second Stoltenberg Government’s revised Norwegian approach – taktskifte (literally, change of pace) – to activities in Afghanistan, with greater focus on civilian efforts. This was in turn motivated partly by the shift in international approach and partly by domestic political considerations in Norway. It was easier for the public and for the Socialist Left party in coalition to accept the idea of boosting civilian efforts than an increase in military expenditure.

The political objective of parity was not achieved. In increasing the civilian aid, Norwegian authorities did not give adequate consideration to the low absorptive capacity in the Afghan state administration and the limited administrative capacity in the Norwegian Embassy in Kabul, as well as in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The conditions for properly following up such an extensive amount of aid were not in place. Norway addressed this in part by channelling the funding to multi-donor funds of the World Bank and to the UN, which assumed responsibility for the administration. But these funds also faced problems of insufficient follow-up of projects in the field. A key reason for this, albeit not the only one, was security. Norwegian performance assessment, too, was weak. Norwegian aid was thus part and parcel of the overall international framework of extensive aid and inadequate follow-up and control. The aid thus contributed to the emergence of widespread corruption. The Norwegian authorities realised this, but political ambitions to provide a substantial volume of aid had greater importance than assessments of the consequences of such assistance.

Norwegian development aid to Afghanistan contributed to results in specific areas such as education and freedom of expression and in isolated smaller-scale projects. Overall, however, Norwegian assistance must be evaluated as part of the international aid. Volume alone is not a good aim in itself. Norway’s aid volume in all likelihood increased its standing and status in relations with the US and NATO, as well as with the UN and the Afghan authorities. In the context of development in Afghanistan, however, an emphasis on quality – including expansion of administrative capacity and performance measurement – would have been preferable to quantity.

13.3.4 Norwegian peace diplomacy

Norway was among the first to take specific steps to promote a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Neither Norwegian nor other attempts to negotiate a settlement were successful. Nevertheless, the Commission views it as positive that Norway tried to establish dialogue between the Taliban and Afghan authorities. Norway’s engagement showed that, as in previous engagements, Norwegian peace diplomacy could generate corresponding US interest. The close dialogue between the Norwegian foreign ministers and their US counterparts was the clearest indication that Norway’s efforts were viewed with interest.

In keeping with Norwegian tradition, peace diplomacy in Afghanistan came about as the result of a combination of individual initiatives and the willingness of the Norwegian authorities to take risks. As has been the case in other areas of conflict, Norway was willing to make contact with all parties involved. Both the political risk and the personal risk taken by Norwegian diplomats were greater in Afghanistan than in most places where Norway has conducted peace diplomacy. The peace initiative illustrated the scope for independent action available to Norway, and its willingness to exploit this. Being proactive early on gave Norway a chance to influence the thinking in what ultimately became a concerted effort to find a political solution. However, there were some inherent contradictions between peace diplomacy efforts on the one hand and Norwegian human rights efforts in areas such as transitional justice on the other. Several of the key dialogue partners in the peace efforts from both the Afghan government and the Taliban had, for example, allegedly committed serious war crimes. Norwegian authorities chose to tone down the focus on transitional justice and stress peace diplomacy.

The Commission finds that the high-level dialogue between the Norwegian authorities and their Afghan and US partners in all likelihood helped to influence their view on the potential for negotiations with the Taliban. Together with others, Norway sought to influence the Taliban’s thinking as to what a political solution ought to and would entail. Norway established dialogue with the Taliban at an early stage on the need for the movement to change its political views and approach, for example, concerning women’s role in society, if the movement wished to return to a place in Afghanistan’s political life.

13.4 Afghanistan and what it meant in Norway

Norway’s engagement in Afghanistan was unlike previous Norwegian engagements, entailing new challenges and lessons to learn. In the following the Commission highlights some of the major military and civilian changes at home that primarily are the result of the participation in Afghanistan.

One of the key challenges was to establish a comprehensive approach to Norway’s involvement. The Norwegian government had never before carried out such a large-scale, complex, parallel civilian and military effort in a conflict area. Taking command of the PRT in Faryab made it clear how important it was to ensure adequate coordination between ministries and between the deployed civilian and military personnel.

The appointment of a State Secretary Committee in 2006 was an attempt to achieve better coordination at the central level. The committee helped to consolidate the idea of a clear separation between civilian and military activities as a political principle. It did not, however, establish clear guidelines for how this principle should be implemented in practice. Nor were clear guidelines for civil–military coordination given in the Faryab strategy developed by the State Secretary Committee in 2009. The strategy constituted, in effect, a list of ambitions for the Norwegian involvement.

Thus, the Norwegian authorities were not able to translate the idea of a comprehensive approach into practice in Afghanistan. Norway’s activities and operations revealed just how difficult it is to achieve an approach that encompasses extensive, coordinated efforts in the areas of security, governance and development.

This overall failure is indicative of the lack of an institutionalised procedure for coordinating Norwegian efforts. Other countries have set up institutions designed for this purpose, with varying degrees of success. The UK has had a coordination unit since 2004, known today as the Stabilisation Unit. Germany established a stabilisation department in its Federal Foreign Office and a special representative for stabilisation in March 2015. The Netherlands uses a somewhat different approach, with a structure for systematic consultation between its government and parliament, in which the government must report on the objectives, means and current and anticipated results of activities.

For Norway and the armed forces, Afghanistan was the first post-WWII mission abroad that involved regular combat. This brought renewed awareness of the value of expertise, professionalisation and experience in combat situations. Alongside this, the development of veteran administration and a revised regimen for awards and decorations are the most high-profile changes in the armed forces resulting from the years in Afghanistan. Awareness of the need to take care of veterans and how to do so systematically has increased considerably during this period.

The special forces are now more visible in society, political circles and the military, thanks to the involvement in Afghanistan. Additionally, close cooperation was established between the Norwegian Special Forces and the Norwegian Intelligence Service. The development of the concept of the National Intelligence Support Team (NIST) was central in this context and garnered international attention. Linking a strategic unit, the Intelligence Service, directly and closely to a tactical unit in the field was innovative.

With regard to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 2008 attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul prompted changes in routines for deployed personnel in the area of health, safety and environment. The Norwegian Embassy was assigned a head of security, physical infrastructure was fortified and security courses for diplomats were made compulsory before travelling. Also, the number of mandatory leaves of absence during service was increased, and employees were offered support from psychologists. The Foreign Service has gained a better understanding of the need for proper individual follow-up of its employees during as well as after completion of a foreign posting. Norway’s involvement in Afghanistan also revealed that there is a disparity between strict precautions to protect personnel on the one hand and high ambitions for the civilian effort on the other. Norway’s limited ability to contribute in certain civilian areas and to follow up and monitor the use of resources were partly the product of such security considerations.

For Norwegian peace diplomacy, the engagement in Afghanistan helped to enhance the ongoing professionalisation of these efforts in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Peace diplomacy has evolved from an idealistically-based civil society effort into one of the Ministry’s highly prioritised core activities. In addition to greater emphasis on continuity and a long-term perspective, this professionalisation process has encompassed more widely applied confidentiality measures and cooperation with the Norwegian Intelligence Service. The peace initiatives in Afghanistan confirmed that Norway is able to play an important role – even in a situation with a very complex matrix of actors, where many are either sceptical of or outright opposed to any attempt at dialogue. Despite the enterprising actions followed with great perseverance over time, the peacemaking attempts have not led to actual negotiations between the parties in the Afghanistan conflict.

14 Experience and lessons learned

The mandate of the Norwegian Commission on Afghanistan states that the Commission’s report ‘… shall identify lessons that may contribute to the planning, organisation and implementation of future Norwegian contributions to international operations’. Every conflict and engagement is unique. The experience and lessons that the Commission have extracted are primarily relevant for international engagements in conflict areas and fragile states where Norway is involved with military and/or civilian instruments. Involvement in such conflict areas and states will always be challenging due to the inherently complex and unpredictable nature of the situation, and will thus always entail a high degree of risk.

In this chapter the Commission discusses frameworks and principles underlying Norway’s engagement and proposes a number of concrete recommendations based on experience gained in Afghanistan.

14.1 Legal basis, transparency and political legitimacy

Norwegian values and interests dictate that any use of force must have legal basis in international law. This applies not just to the actual use of force, but also to the decision to resort to it. Norway should express its position on these issues to its allies and partners, as well as in the national debate.

Civilian and military involvement in conflict areas and fragile states is very costly and often entails great risk – there is always a chance that lives will be lost. It is therefore essential that such involvement has domestic support in accordance with democratic principles. Transparency is important, even when unfavourable issues are involved, to promote a well-informed public debate, as well as to ensure political legitimacy for such engagements.

The government will need to seek support for its decisions. The Commission wishes to emphasise how important it is for the message to the public to be balanced and realistic. It is vital that there is openness about the government’s reasons for participating, and that these reasons are communicated clearly.

The current system of closed-door briefings for the Enlarged Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee and broad, open reports to the Storting (Norwegian parliament) should be improved. Whenever Norway engages in a conflict area, the government should inform the Storting more systematically along the way of the intended objectives, means, anticipated results and experience. Institutionalising such procedures will also provide a better foundation for an informed debate.

14.2 Policy framework for future Norwegian engagements

As was the case in Afghanistan, future Norwegian involvement in conflict areas and fragile states will be conducted as part of international efforts in which others will set the overall policy framework. In principle Norway will always be free to choose not to take part. Such a choice may be difficult, however, when requests to participate come from NATO or the US, or when the UN asks for contributions towards enforcement measures as stipulated in Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The trade-offs entailed in making a choice must be publicly acknowledged and communicated. In all international engagements there will be some opportunity to influence decision-making. In situations where Norway chooses to participate, the authorities can and should seek to influence the policy framework to a greater extent than was the case in Afghanistan.

The possibilities for adopting an independent Norwegian approach may be substantial. In Afghanistan Norway was able to choose solutions that diverged from those advocated by the main allies, without incurring lasting negative consequences for relations with the US or others. This applied in particular to the decision not to participate in the south after 2006. It was also true of the decision to separate civilian and military activities, which ultimately came to be at odds with ISAF’s approach to counter-insurgency operations. Norwegian peace diplomacy efforts clearly illustrate that Norway can both deviate from the mainstream approach and be influential. Norway’s initiative came early and represented a break with the US approach. At the same time, the Norwegian initiative promoted greater understanding of the need and potential for negotiations towards a political solution.

14.3 Strategic principles, planning and approach

The engagement in Afghanistan underlined fundamental lessons from other civilian and military efforts, including the value of setting clear limits and having realistic aims, as well as systematically reassessing the means and objectives already underway. It is challenging to draw up integrated plans, including plans for coordinating national actors and contributions. This is particularly difficult to accomplish in a complex engagement with multiple actors and different objectives that at times may contradict one another. In Afghanistan the ‘war on terror’ entailed objectives and instruments that were difficult to reconcile with state-building.

Interventions involving regime change, as the case was in Afghanistan, drain resources and can foster even more conflict. They create expectations of economic and political reconstruction that are difficult to fulfil. Even contributions that, seen in isolation, are well founded may have unexpected, unintended or undesirable consequences. State-building is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve during ongoing armed conflict. International state-building efforts must be based on inclusive political solutions. External actors can do very little to give local authorities legitimacy among their own people.

Norway can do little to influence the design and approach of a comprehensive international military and civilian engagement such as the one in Afghanistan. The objectives and strategy will for the most part be determined by others. Nonetheless, in their activities in conflict areas Norwegian authorities must stress the considerations listed below. These must be promoted in international planning and form the foundation for Norwegian efforts:

  • The objectives for the engagement must be clearly defined and communicated to the Storting and public at large. This includes Norwegian objectives that may supersede or supplement international objectives.

  • An exit strategy must be established. At the national level this strategy must reflect the aims and limitations underlying the Norwegian involvement.

  • Deviation from goals over time (‘mission creep’) is undesirable and must be avoided.

  • When changes to international objectives occur, Norwegian authorities must emphasise that these changes are based on a comprehensive political assessment. Norway must take a stand on whether the new objectives are in keeping with Norwegian interests and, if necessary, limit participation or withdraw.

  • Attempts to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict must begin early. Norway has wide-ranging experience with such dialogue and is open to conducting talks with all parties. Norway therefore has a special responsibility to guide such initiatives. The need for such a solution must have support both at the political level and among the population in the conflict area. A negotiated solution may entail difficult dilemmas relating, for example, to transitional justice, including legal action against war criminals.

14.4 Administrative and operational lessons learned

The Commission has identified various types of lessons learned and has grouped them into three categories: general lessons (which apply to Norwegian authorities in general), lessons for military activities and lessons for civilian activities.

14.4.1 General lessons learned

  • The government should inform the Storting more systematically and regularly regarding the aims, means and anticipated results of its activities. Results and experience should be assessed on an ongoing basis for evaluation purposes and for future compilation of data.

  • Norwegian authorities must take steps to improve coordination mechanisms. A high-level coordination unit with responsibility for developing strategies and action plans should be established, and must be approved at the political level. The activities of the coordination unit must have a greater strategic focus than was the case under the State Secretary Committee for Afghanistan. The unit must engage in dialogue with relevant partners.

  • Political guidelines must be specified and adapted to the situation as early as possible in close consultation with deployed personnel. There are many examples from the engagement in Afghanistan where political decisions were not adequately operationalised or followed up with specific measures.

  • Norway should make better use of opportunities to exert influence through targeted diplomacy. Norwegian authorities should work more systematically to promote Norwegian positions in international forums. Experience gained from the engagement in Afghanistan shows it is possible for Norwegian authorities to exert influence on international decision-making processes. This requires personnel resources, better communication between delegations and ministries, and early input in policy formulation processes.

  • Norway should not assume responsibility for integrated missions (state-building, development and security) on a large scale. Norway should instead be developing specialised expertise in areas where long-term needs are identified and clear roles are stipulated, within the framework of broader international, unified efforts.

  • Norwegian authorities should consider career plans for military and civilian personnel, as well as means of staffing that would allow key personnel to remain in their postings and deployments longer than they do today. Organised follow-up of the families of deployed personnel during and after service is therefore important. Frequent rotation of deployed personnel is not constructive. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has much to learn from how the armed forces deals with the families of military personnel.

  • The need for local expertise on cultural, social and related fields in areas of conflict is great. Norwegian authorities must identify existing competencies for relevant areas of involvement early on and seek to incorporate this knowledge as rapidly as possible in the planning phase of activities. This includes bringing in persons from relevant areas of involvement and making the most of their professional, linguistic and cultural competencies. When assessing relevant areas for long-term activity, Norwegian authorities should set aside resources for intensive language training of both civilian employees and military personnel.

  • Effective, consistent routines must be established for recruitment and clarification of expectations with respect to Norway’s legal and moral responsibilities for locally employed staff. This is particularly important in areas where Norway is, or is perceived as, a party in the conflict.

14.4.2 Lessons learned for the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces

  • Participation in extensive operations abroad must not lead to any substantial weakening of the armed forces’ ability to perform its primary mission of preparedness at home.

  • The Ministry of Defence and armed forces leadership must take an active role in shaping the criteria and nature of the mission to be carried out by Norwegian military commanders in international operations. This is particularly important in situations where the Norwegian approach deviates from the guidelines in the international operation. Norwegian commanders in the field must have adequate autonomy and authority to adapt a strategy to local conditions, but the overall strategy must be developed at higher levels.

  • The armed forces should consider whether more of the Norwegians assigned to international staffs must also be expected to carry out national missions and fill national needs. Several NATO countries utilise international positions in this way.

  • The armed forces should seek to limit the size of the support structure in operations. There will be situations that require a large-scale national support element in the area of operation. In other contexts it may be more appropriate for the armed forces to meet support needs through agreements with others.

  • The armed forces’ ‘lessons learned’ processes should be institutionalised to a greater extent. The transfer of experience must also be emphasised at the operational and strategic levels.

14.4.3 Lessons for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and civil sector

  • Norway’s willingness to engage in talks with all parties in a conflict is fundamental. Peace diplomacy entails significant risk both personally for the diplomats involved and generally in terms of failure to achieve results. These efforts thus require solid political support. There has been significant professionalisation in this field, which on the whole gives it new strength. This should not inhibit open dialogue with NGOs and research groups, which has been a key asset of the Norwegian approach.

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should prioritise selected areas at an early stage and pursue these systematically, for example, by ensuring adequate personnel resources and continuity of activities.

  • In complex conflict areas the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should utilise every opportunity to facilitate regional dialogue and cooperation, as the Ministry has done in the Heart of Asia process. Efforts to develop civil society and people-to-people projects may provide relevant contributions to such processes.

  • The relationship between development aid and policy should be clarified from the outset of an engagement. The use of diplomatic instruments such as participation in donor forums is important for efforts to shape the international agenda and the development aid agenda. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should therefore make it a priority to send experts to take part in such forums. In conflict areas special efforts should be made to promote cooperation with like-minded countries.

  • The quality and impact of Norwegian development aid, as well as the administrative capacity available, must be given greater weight than is currently the case. Experience from Afghanistan demonstrates that a large volume of aid should not be an end in itself.

  • Humanitarian efforts in fragile states experiencing conflict must be continually assessed in connection with long-term development aid and based on detailed conflict analyses. It is important to ensure that humanitarian aid is not scaled back too soon. On the other hand, humanitarian aid must not become a substitute for long-term development aid.

  • The use of multi-donor funds must not in itself be used to justify cuts in administrative capacity. Following up multi-donor funds is comprehensive, time-consuming work.

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs must weigh the willingness to undertake risk against the potential for carrying out diplomatic work in conflict areas. A zero-risk approach to security may make it virtually impossible for Norway to be engaged in conflict areas. The Ministry must continue developing a professional approach to security that allows personnel to operate in conflict areas.

  • The principle of zero tolerance for corruption must be adhered to and clearly communicated to partners at all levels. At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in dialogue with partners, should make every attempt to ensure that key programmes continue to operate even when there are suspicions of corruption.

  • Systematic performance reporting is essential for documenting the impact of aid, both for learning purposes and as a basis for informed public debate. The Ministry, along with Norad and partners, must develop better tools and routines in this area.

  • Knowledge transfer is still not adequately institutionalised and steps must be taken to create a more operational framework for this at the Ministry. Overlap between personnel posted abroad will save time in the long run and facilitate and improve the quality of their work. This is especially important in conflict areas.

1 The Norwegian dead

Trond André Bolle

Andreas Eldjarn

Kristoffer Sørli Jørgensen

Trond Petter Kolset

Tor Arne Lau-Henriksen

Christian Lian

Claes Joachim Olsson

Tommy Rødningsby

Siri Skare

Simen Tokle


Carsten Thomassen

Egil Kristian Tynæs

2 Mandate Norwegian Commission on Afghanistan

2.1 Background

On 29 September 2014, Afghanistan saw its first peaceful transfer of power from one elected president to another. On 31 December 2014, the Afghan Government will take responsibility for security in Afghanistan and NATO will conclude its ISAF operation. This will mark the end of a major phase in the international engagement to provide stability and security in the country. Norway has been extensively engaged in both political processes, through military and police contributions, and with civilian development aid.

In line with the Parliament’s resolution of 25 February 2014 (cf. Representantforslag 8:12 S 2013–2014), the Government has decided to appoint by Royal Decree an independent Commission to evaluate and draw lessons from all aspects of the Norwegian engagement in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. The Commission will have 10 members. The Commission may establish a reference group composed of Norwegian and international experts. Based on its needs, the commission may contact also other relevant Norwegian and international experts.

2.2 The Commission's task

The Commission shall conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the overall Norwegian engagement and present a report that should be publicly available in its entirety. The report shall identify lessons that may contribute to the planning, organisation and implementation of future Norwegian contributions to international operations. The Commission shall therefore map and evaluate all parts of the Norwegian engagement between 2001 and 2014. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

International questions:

  • The shaping of the overall international strategy and aims for Afghanistan, including an assessment of whether or not these objectives have been met.

  • The UN’s/UNAMA’s role and impact as coordinator of the international engagement, including in terms of development cooperation, humanitarian assistance and political dialogue with the Government of Afghanistan.

  • The UN-led [sic] military engagement prior to NATO's assumption of command of ISAF.

  • The development of NATO's strategy and plans, Norway’s freedom of action and its engagement in and influence on this process.

  • The overall impact of NATO's and ISAF's engagement.

  • The relationship between the international military engagement, civilian development assistance and political processes, including how the different components have influenced results across the different sectors.

  • The implementation of the Strategy for the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, Women, Peace and Security.

  • The impact of regional processes on the stabilisation of Afghanistan, including Norwegian engagement in these.

National questions:

  • The design and development of Norwegian civilian and military contributions, including military contribution to the UN and NATO, participation in Operation Enduring Freedom, civilian police contributions both bilaterally and through the EU-led EUPOL-A mission, support to the UN's UNAMA mission and development assistance both bilaterally and through multilateral channels such as the UNDP and the World Bank.

  • Whether the Norwegian forces had adequate equipment.

  • Whether the Norwegian forces received adequate training in how to operate in the local Afghan conditions and context.

  • Whether the national and operational freedom of action was utilized when designing the overall Norwegian contribution.

  • The impact of Norwegian civilian and military contributions, including the degree to which the contributions have supported the overall political objectives of the Norwegian engagement in Afghanistan.

  • Whether the civilian and military engagement has been cost effective.

  • The relationship between the Norwegian civilian and military engagement, including a comparative perspective on the strategies of other countries. This includes the Norwegian engagement in and allocation of resources to Faryab province.

  • To which extent the Norwegian Faryab strategy met the needs on the ground.

  • The effect of Norwegian humanitarian assistance and engagement in Afghanistan.

  • How the security of Norwegian civilian and military personnel, as well as local staff, was safeguarded, including recruitment procedures and preparations prior to deployment.

  • The perception of the engagement in Norway, and the Norwegian forces’ perception of political and popular support.

  • The follow-up of Norwegian civilian and military personnel and their families, as well as locally employed staff, after the end of service in Afghanistan.

2.3 The Commission’s access to information

The Commission may gather information and assessments from different sources, including Norwegian governmental employees, employees of international organisations such as UN and NATO, representatives of Norwegian and international development organisations and Norwegian and international research institutions.

In its work, the Commission may draw on existing evaluations, including the Evaluation of Norwegian Development Cooperation with Afghanistan 2001 – 2011, NATO’s Periodic Mission Reviews, Norwegian evaluations of our own military planning, organisation and conduct of operations, equivalent evaluations conducted by allies, and Norwegian and international research.

As part of the Commission’s work, it may gather information that in principle is covered by statutory duty of confidentiality, as well as on other bases such as contractual confidentiality. Duty of confidentiality based on commitment to or agreement with the government as an employer, shall not prevent the Commission from gaining access to information about Norway’s civilian and military engagement in Afghanistan. The ability to share information covered by statutory duty of confidentiality must be individually considered based on the legal basis of the confidentiality.

Classified information may only be shared with specific basis in law or regulation, cf. the Officials Secrets Act § 12. If necessary, the King [i.e. the government] will if necessary publish a separate regulation on the Commission’s access to classified information.

The members of the Commission are themselves bound by confidentiality regarding the confidential information they gain access to through their work.

2.4 Timeframe and reporting

The Commission will start its work as soon as possible after 1 January 2015. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence will be updated on the progress of the work, based agreed with the Chair of the Commission. The Commission shall submit its final report to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defence by 1 June 2016.

3 List of interviewees

In addition to those included in the list, the Commission interviewed a number of persons who cannot be named.

The Commission is also grateful to a number of people who have supported its work.

  • Abdul, Faizy Suboh

  • Abdullah, Abdullah

  • Ahadi, Anwar ul Haq

  • Ahmadi, Belquis

  • Alamyar, Irshad

  • Ali, Obaid

  • Allers, Tone

  • Aloise, Gene

  • Andersen, Steen Borholdt

  • Andersen, Louise Riis

  • Andresen, Helene Sand

  • Arntzen, Espen

  • Atmar, Mohammad Hanif

  • Auroy, Patrick

  • Ayubi, Najiba

  • Badialetti, Gianmarco

  • Baillie, Ross

  • Barraut, Guillaume

  • Bartels, Knud

  • Bartlett, Juliet

  • Bateman, Kate

  • Bauck, Petter

  • Bauer, Greg

  • Bellinger, John

  • Berglund, Jan

  • Berli, Eldar

  • Berntsen, Jørn Erik

  • Bjørndal, Paul Øystein

  • Bondevik, Kjell Magne

  • Borgos, Rolf

  • Bowden, Mark

  • Bowen, Desmond

  • Brahimi, Lakhdar

  • Brandtzæg, Marit

  • Brekke, Torill

  • Bronstein-Moffly, Alexander

  • Brox, Ari

  • Bruun-Hanssen, Haakon

  • Buchmann, Alexander

  • Bull, Jørgen

  • Chaudhuri, Rudhra

  • Clark, Kate

  • Clarke, Michael

  • Cowper-Coles, Sherard

  • Crowley, Peter

  • Danesho, Shayma

  • Danevad, Andreas

  • Daoud, Sayed

  • Daoudzai, Omer

  • de Feijter, Erik

  • Dempsey, John

  • Dennys, Christian

  • Devold, Kristin Krohn

  • Diesen, Sverre

  • Diset, Hans

  • Dobbins, James

  • Dramdal, Torunn

  • Dyrud, Merete

  • Efjestad, Svein

  • Ege, Rune Thomas

  • Egeland, Jan

  • Eggers, Jeff

  • Eide, Elisabeth

  • Eide, Espen Barth

  • Eide, Gjermund

  • Eide, Kai

  • Eikeland, Arvinn Gadgil

  • Enstad, Kristin

  • Evensen, Annika

  • Faiq, Naqibullah

  • Falkenberg, Vibeke

  • Fareedzai, Assadullah

  • Faremo, Grete

  • Farrell, Theo

  • Fife, Rolf Einar

  • Fischer, Dean

  • Fischer-Barnicol, Andreas

  • Frantzen, Henning A.

  • Freedman, Lawrence

  • Frisvold, Sigurd

  • Fry, Robert

  • Fuglset, Ada

  • Gahre, Christian

  • Galic, Mirna

  • Garewal, Ziggy

  • Garraway, Charles

  • Ghani, Ashraf

  • Ghani, Rula

  • Ginkel, John

  • Giustozzi, Antonio

  • Gjerde, Ingrid

  • Gjestvang, Bjørg

  • Glad, Marit

  • Golden, Lisa

  • Gopal, Anand

  • Gordon, Stuart

  • Gossman, Patricia

  • Grandia, Mirjam

  • Grossman, Marc

  • Grydeland, Bjørn

  • Guggenheim, Scott

  • Guttormsen, Tom

  • Habibi, Shafiqa

  • Haga-Lunde, Morten

  • Hakim, Fahim

  • Hals, Barthold

  • Halsne, Sigbjørn

  • Halvorsen, Kristin

  • Hanssen, Tor-Erik

  • Harlem, Mads

  • Harmon, Scott

  • Harstad, Christian

  • Hartz, Halvor

  • Hashim, Haji

  • Hattrem, Tore

  • Hauge, Knut

  • Haugstveit, Nils

  • Haukeland, Semund

  • Hayden, Ingrid

  • Helgesen, John

  • Helgesen, Vidar

  • Hellestveit, Cecilie

  • Helseth, Hans Christian

  • Hemmer, Jarl Eirik

  • Henningsen, Jacob

  • Hoff, Jan Ivar

  • Holte, Nils Johan

  • Howard, Cathy

  • Hønsvik, Atle André

  • Ibrahimi, Nilifar

  • Ilsaas, Per

  • Inkster, Nigel

  • Jakobsen, Petter Viggo

  • Johannesen, Raymond

  • Johannessen, Lasse Bjørn

  • Johnson, Hilde Frafjord

  • Josefsson, Ulrika

  • Jæger, Janicke

  • Kanavin, Janis Bjørn

  • Karlsen, Trond

  • Karokhel, Danish

  • Karokhil, Masood

  • Karzai, Hamid

  • Kaspersen, Siv

  • Keating, Michael

  • Khenjani, Abdullah

  • Killian, Dennis

  • Kjelseth, Vigdis

  • Kjølseth, Liv

  • Kjørven, Olav

  • Kleppe, Toiko Tönisson

  • Kock, Mathias

  • Kofi, Fawzai

  • Kopstad, Marte

  • Kouvo, Sari

  • Kristensen, Per

  • Kristoffersen, Eirik

  • Kristoffersen, Frode

  • Kristoffersen, Marte

  • Lamb, Graeme

  • Larsen, Iselin Hebbert

  • Leikvoll, Atle

  • Leirfall, Alexander

  • Lind, Kyrre

  • Lockhart, Clare

  • Longden, Martin

  • Lute, Douglas

  • Lysenstøen, Thor

  • Løchen, Grete

  • Løvold, Andreas

  • Malme, Odd Berner

  • Malmø-Moen, Svein-Erik

  • Marlaud, Jean-Michel

  • Marstein, Sigurd

  • McEvoy, Philip

  • McKinley, Michael

  • McMaster, Herbert Raymond

  • Melfald, Hanne

  • Meskanen, Anne

  • Meyer, Johan

  • Mir, Haroun

  • Mohib, Hamdullah

  • Mood, Robert

  • Moore, Cathy

  • Morris, Phedra Moon

  • Morse, John

  • Mujahid, Abdul Hakim

  • Muradi, Faizullah

  • Mutawakil, Wakil Ahmed

  • Naderi, Zuhra

  • Nadery, Nader

  • Nasity, Sabir

  • Nassery, Asma

  • Nassif, Claudia

  • Niblock, Thomas C.

  • Nordbø, Toralv

  • Nordland, Ted

  • Nysted, Thomas

  • Nørlem, Klaus

  • Olsen, Kåre Helland

  • Olsson, Louise

  • Ommundsen, Frode

  • Opedal, Per Sverre

  • Opperud, Arne

  • Pampaloni, Corrado

  • Parish, Jonathan

  • Parto, Saeed

  • Pazhwak, Barmak

  • Pedersen, Geir O.

  • Pedersen, John Otto

  • Pedersen, Odd Jørun

  • Pedersen, Søren

  • Petersen, Benedicte

  • Petersen, Jan

  • Petraeus, David

  • Pinto, Sonia

  • Pruzan-Jørgensen, Julie

  • Qanooni, Younas

  • Querido, Rob

  • Rabbani, Salahuddin

  • Rahman, Babu

  • Rahmanis, Maryam

  • Ramslien, Alf Arne

  • Raoufi, Fawzia

  • Rasmusson, Elisabeth

  • Ravndal, Øyvin

  • Reichelt, Jon Gerhard

  • Reid, Rachel

  • Reksten, Jan

  • Rietjens, Bas

  • Roberts, Adam

  • Rodwell, Tom

  • Rondeaux, Candace

  • Rosellini, Nicholas

  • Rosenvinge, Marit Jenny

  • Rubin, Barnett

  • Rutledal, Frode

  • Ruttig, Thomas

  • Rydmark, Bjørn Christian

  • Rykken, Tom

  • Rødahl, Magne

  • Safi, Gulalai Noor

  • Safi, Hasina

  • Safi, Naqibullah

  • Salam, Barry

  • Salikudden, Tamanna

  • Samar, Sima

  • Saum, Robert

  • Saurstrø, Espen

  • Schjelderup, Nina Hal

  • Schjøning, Anna Sofie

  • Schuurman, Marriet

  • Sedney, David

  • Semple, Michael

  • Shafaq, Abdul Haq

  • Shea, Jamie

  • Shewari, Zabihullah

  • Shinwari, Ikram

  • Skinner, David

  • Skjønsberg, Erling

  • Skotnes, Bjørg

  • Skåre, Mari

  • Smith, Scott

  • Smith, Leanne

  • Snedal, Tom

  • Solberg, Bjørn Tore

  • Solberg, Rune

  • Solheim, Erik

  • Solhjell, Bård Vegard

  • Sommerseth, Leif Petter

  • Sopko, John

  • Spanta, Rangin Dadfar

  • Sponheim, Lars

  • Stai, Atle

  • Stanekzai, Mohammed Masoom

  • Staveland, Lars Inge

  • Steinle, Ulrich

  • Stenersen, Anne

  • Stocker, Farhana

  • Stocker, Reto

  • Stoltenberg, Jens

  • Stoveland, Svein

  • Strand, Arne

  • Strand, Marit

  • Strøm-Erichsen, Anne-Grete

  • Strømmen, Wegger Chr.

  • Støre, Jonas Gahr

  • Sunde, Harald

  • Svenungsen, Bjørn

  • Synnevåg, Gry

  • Sætre, Halvor

  • Søbstad, Odd Andreas

  • Tameem, Ahmed

  • Tanin, Zahir

  • Tardioli, Francesca

  • Taxell, Nils

  • Their, Alex

  • Thomson, Adam

  • Thorsås, Egil

  • Thørud, Harald

  • Toreng, Tore

  • Traavik, Kim

  • Traavik, Stig

  • Tveiten, Margit

  • Ulriksen, Ståle

  • Vaglum, Henning

  • Valmary, Jean Baptiste

  • Vang, John Helge

  • Vendrell, Francesc

  • Vistisen, Niels Klingenberg

  • von Hippel, Karin

  • von Malmborg, Marianne

  • Wali, Shah

  • Wardaq, Farooq

  • Watterdal, Terje

  • Wenneberg, Rune

  • Wilde, Alexandra

  • Wilder, Andrew

  • Wilder, Timothy

  • Williams, Nick

  • Wilsborg, Sissel

  • Winterbotham, Emily

  • Wirak, Anders

  • Wolasmal, Ayesha

  • Wolffhechel, Uffe

  • Worden, Scott

  • Yousafai, Zerak

  • Zilmer-Johns, Michael

  • Ødegaard, Geir

  • Østergaard, Liv Jeannette

  • Østgaard, Hans Olav

  • Aamoth, Dag Rist

  • Aas, Kåre R.

  • Aas, Torgeir

  • Aass, Thor Arne

4 Military contributions in Afghanistan

Operation Enduring Freedom

  • Special forces (January–June 2002)

  • Mine clearance personnel, Kandahar/Bagram (January–May 2002)

  • 1 C-130 transport aircraft, Manas (April–October 2002)

  • 6 F-16 fighters, Manas (October 2002–March 2003)

  • Special forces (March–September 2003)

  • Special forces (August 2005–January 2006)


  • Staff officers ISAF HQs5

  • Explosive ordnance disposal team, Kabul (February–December 2002)

  • Movement control unit, KAIA (February–May 2002)

  • CIMIC, Kabul (February 2003–February 2004)

  • Surgical unit, Kabul (September 2003–March 2004)

  • Telemark Task Force I + II/Norwegian Squadron, Kabul (November 2003–July 2004)

  • Partner in PRT Meymaneh, Faryab (July 2004–August 2005)

  • Battle Group 3 (command element/company/etc.), Kabul (August 2004–January 2006)

  • Lead nation PRT Meymaneh, Faryab (September 2005–June 2012)

  • 4 F-16 fighters, Kabul (February–May 2006)

  • Quick reaction force (QRF), Mazar-i-Sharif (March 2006–June 2008)

  • Mobile field hospital, Mazar-i-Sharif (March 2006–March 2007)

  • Special forces, Kabul (March–September 2007)

  • Commander Kabul airport (COMKAIA) (April–October 2007)

  • Special forces, Kabul (March 2008–September 2009)

  • Medical helicopters (Norwegian Aeromedical Detachment), PRT Meymaneh (April 2008–June 2012)

  • Mentoring team (Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMTL)) Kandak, Faryab (January 2009–December 2010)6

  • Police mentoring team (P-OMLT), Meymaneh (June 2010–June 2012)

  • Special forces, Kabul (April 2012–d.d)

  • Lead nation Transition Support Group, Faryab (June 2012–October 2012)7

  • Tactical air transport (C-130) (September 2012–June 2013)

  • OMLT Korps/Brigade (2006–2013)

  • Instructor, ANA school of engineering (2010–2014)

  • Instructor, ANA school of communications (2010–2013)

  • Police mentoring team (January 2013–June 2014)

  • Nordic Baltic Transition Support unit (March 2013–9 May 2014 8

  • Instructor at the ANA war academy (2013–)


  • National contingent commander (NCC) (January 2002–)

  • Firefighters KAIA, Kabul (May 2004–August 2006)

  • Multi-National support group, Mazar-i-Sharif (January 2006–July 2007)

  • National support group (NSG), Mazar-i-Sharif (July 2007–July 2008)

  • National support element (NSE) (July 2008–July 2014)

  • UNAMA (February 2007–August 2014)

  • Intelligence contributions



Using an exchange rate of NOK 6.3 to 1 USD.


‘Motangrep i Norges interesse’ [Counterattack in Norway’s interests], Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten, 18 September 2001.


Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Foreign Affairs, ‘Redegjørelse av utenriksministeren om utviklingen i Afghanistan og Norges engasjement i landet’ [The situation in Afghanistan and Norway’s engagement in the country], Address to the Storting, 4 June 2013.


Børge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs, ‘Redegjørelse av utenriksministeren om utviklingen i Afghanistan og Norges engasjement i landet’ [The situation in Afghanistan and Norway’s engagement in the country], Address to the Storting, 5 June 2014.


Mainly in ISAF HQ, HQ IJC, HQ RC-North.


The fifth contingent kandak OMLT was renamed «mentor unit», given different mentoring tasks and organisationally became a part of the PRT. Discontinued in summer of 2011.


Transition Support Group-Faryab (TSG-F) was PRT contingent 19 with somewhat different tasks than previous PRTs.


The Norwegian Police Advisory Team (PAT) was part of the Nordic-Baltic Transition Support Unit when this became operative in spring 2013. Norway also contributed staff personell.

To front page