The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that has helped Afghanistan rise from the ashes of the Taliban also has produced concrete benefits for coalition members, according to a pair of retired U.S. military flag officers who were involved in the effort. Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN (Ret.), dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and Gen. John R. Allen, USMC (Ret.), a former commander of ISAF, described how many nations gained from that operation in a panel discussion at West 2014, co-sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute and being held February 11-13 in San Diego.
Gen. Allen declared, “There was a massive development of political progress” as a result of this coalition among allies. He cited one country’s military officer as saying that his country would not have advanced its military as much as it did without the ability to work alongside the U.S. military for several years. ISAF participation also helped advance interoperability and international stability to a significant degree, the general added.
Gen. Allen allowed that insider attacks, in which Afghan personnel trained by ISAF personnel turned on their advisers, took a toll on ISAF efforts. “The insider attack created the greatest political crisis—the people we were training were assassinating our advisers. It hurt the coalition,” he said. Ultimately, it took technological, intelligence and organizational aspects to overcome it. It took U.S. leaders a while to recognize the implication of the insider attack, he noted.