Crisis management in Afghanistan

Finland supports the stabilisation of Afghanistan through development cooperation and humanitarian aid as well as military and civilian crisis management. Finland participates in the NATO-led Resolute Support operation and contributed strongly to the EU’s police mission EUPOL (European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan).

Civilian crisis management

The EU’s civilian crisis management operation EUPOL (European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan) was carried out in Afghanistan in 2007–2016. Throughout the years, Finland has been one of the most significant providers of experts in this mission. Finns have also worked in management positions in the operation.

EUPOLin ja Kriisinhallintakeskus CMC:n järjestämältä kurssilta valmistunut sisäministeriön opetus- ja koulutusosaston johtaja Gul Nabi Ahmadzai (vas.) ja EUPOLin johtaja Jukka Savolainen (oik.).

The head of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior’s education and training department Gul Nabi Ahmadzai (left), who has completed the course organised by EUPOL and the Crisis Management Centre Finland (CMC), and Jukka Savolainen (right), the EUPOL’s former Head of Mission.

The basic task of the operation was to support the development of police operations and the rule of law in Afghanistan as part of the overall renewal of the country’s security sector. Particular attention was paid to aspects related to human rights and equality. International experts assumed an advisory role in the strategic development of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior, the prosecution service and the police forces.

In addition to the EUPOL operation, Finnish civilian crisis management experts have worked in Afghanistan in the EU Special Representative’s office, the NATO Senior Civilian Representative’s office in Kabul and the German Civilian Representative’s office in northern Afghanistan.

Military crisis management

Finland participates in NATO’s Resolute Support crisis management operation that was launched on 1 January 2015 with a force of approximately 12,000 soldiers. The operation focuses on four provincial centres and Kabul. The decision of Finland’s participation in the RS operation was made in December 2014 and Finland has approximately 40 soldiers taking part in the operation. Finns are working in RS’s multinational commands in Kabul, in the northern command in Mazar-i-Sharif and as advisors.

Suomalainen rauhanturvaaja keskustelee tulkin välityksellä afgaanimiehen kanssa. Kuva: Sam Karvonen

A Finnish peacekeeper discusses with an Afghan man with the help of an interpreter. Photo: Sam Karvonen

Before the RS operation, Finland operated in the country in NATO’s ISAF crisis management operation in 2002–2014, tasked with supporting the Afghan government in stabilising the security situation. The tasks of the RS operation include the training, supporting and advising of the Afghan security forces (ANSF) at the strategic level and the supporting of the Afghan security structures. The goal of the operation is to bring the Afghan security forces and structures to such a level that they can independently and competently keep the country’s security situation stable while complying with the principles of good governance and respecting human rights.

For more information, see: Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan

Who serves in Afghanistan?

Similarly as in other military crisis management operations, people recruited to Afghanistan include mainly reservists. The educational and professional backgrounds of the experienced reservists reflect the entire spectrum of Finnish society. This is an asset when cooperating with local population, administration and non-governmental organisations, for instance.

Some of conscripts receive training for international missions already during their conscript service period. In addition, persons selected for operations are provided with specific introductory training for each operation and task.

In civilian crisis management, recruitment is carried out by the Crisis Management Centre Finland (CMC), which also acts as the state employer of persons appointed in expert positions.