Coalition forces

Coalition forces

This section mainly deals with the structure, character and dynamics of the ISAF coalition, and, for earlier stages of the war, the United States’ Operation Enduring Freedom. Related pages deal with individual ISAF coalition contributing countries that have either cooperated directly with Australian deployments, mainly in Oruzgan provinces – such as the United States, Netherlands, France, Slovakia, and Singapore – or are countries with which Australia has a close security relationship, but with forces deployed elsewhere in Afghanistan – such as New Zealand, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

ISAF contributing nations, August 2010
Source: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF): Key Facts and Figures, 6 August 2010

PDF version

Government sources


International Security Assistance Force, NATO

International Security Assistance Force: Key Facts and Figures (August 2010)

Commander: General David H. Petraeus (USA)
Senior Civilian Representative: Ambassador Mark Sedwill
47 Troop Contributing Nations
ISAF Total Strength: approx 119, 819
27 Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)


NATO in Afghanistan, NATO Topics, NATO.


Afghanistan War order of battle, Wikipedia [retrieved 18 August 2010]

Order of Battle Coalition Combat Forces in Afghanistan – February 2009, Wesley Morgan, Institute for the Study of War.

Peace culture weakens NATO, ABC News, 26 February 2010

NATO’S recent deployment of 20,000 extra troops to Afghanistan was vital to the allied war effort. Despite the increase, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has identified a serious problem when he refers to a “crisis” in the NATO alliance. He is concerned about the wave of pacifism sweeping Europe’s political leadership, which, he says, makes it difficult for the US to operate and fight with its continental partners.

Under-spending on defence is a part of the problem, with equipment shortages hampering the war effort in Afghanistan. Fewer than a fifth of NATO’s 28 member nations are meeting their commitment to spend 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence. Nor are foreign and strategic issues afforded sufficient priority by the European Union, which last year appointed a relatively obscure and inexperienced British politician, Baroness Catherine Ashton, to the new position of EU foreign affairs chief.

Gates quietly draws more allied troops for Afghanistan effort, Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times, 8 February 2010

Gates, during a weeklong tour, did not plead with his European counterparts to send more troops. Rather than twisting arms for more forces, Gates’ mission has become more subtle, aimed at fine-tuning the mix of allied troops and emphasizing the need for trainers to upgrade Afghanistan’s security forces. With the troop deployment approved in December by President Obama, the number of U.S. troops will rise to nearly 100,000 this year. In addition, there are nearly 40,000 allied troops.

U.S. officials said allies have committed nearly 10,000 additional forces since the Obama administration’s strategy review last year. Gates said Sunday in Italy that it’s important to include as many trainers and mentors as possible. France’s announcement last week that it would provide approximately 80 more trainers was seen by some as a snub to the U.S. The Italians, by contrast, had announced earlier that they would boost their force by 1,000. But French Defense Minister Herve Morin defended his country’s contributions Monday in a joint appearance with Gates. “We’ve added 1,300 soldiers in less than two years,” Morin said.

Obama set to boost troops, Sheldon Alberts, The Ottawa Citizen, 1 December 2009

President Barack Obama will tell the American public tonight he is sending an additional 30,000 to 35,000 troops to Afghanistan. The bulk of U.S. reinforcements are slated to be deployed to Helmand and Kandahar provinces, where the Taliban insurgency has been strongest. Several thousand new U.S. troops are expected to join the Canadian command in Kandahar.
Meanwhile, Brown announced Monday Britain would send 500 more soldiers to Afghanistan — bringing that country’s total force level to 9,500 — while Poland signaled it may add troops to its 2,000-strong contingent. Australia announced last April it was adding 450 troops to its 1,100-soldier commitment.
Key Facts:
New approximates of total US troops in Afghanistan – 64,800.

Interactive graphic: Afghanistan – Behind the front line, Matthew Green, Helen Warrell, Serena Tarling, Steve Bernard and Marine Formentini, Financial Times, 13 October 2009

In this graphic, the FT looks at the work of the provincial reconstruction teams (the groups of soldiers and civilians working on development missions) run by the nine leading nations in the International Security Assistance Force, to assess their activities and establish indicators of success.

Within the nation-building, security and counter-narcotics sections on the graphic below, click on each ISAF country to see details of its activities and where its PRTs are located.

Key facts on ISAF Troop Sizes:
US            –  26,215
Britain        –   8,300
Germany     –   3,465
Canada       –   2,830
France        –   2,780
Italy           –   2,350
Netherlands  –  1,590
Poland         –  1,770
Australia      –  1,090

Total             50,390

Leaders agree to boost coalition forces in Afghanistan, AFP, France24, 4 April 2009

The leaders of the 28 NATO allies agreed on Saturday to deploy up to 5,000 additional troops in Afghanistan to help secure elections in August and to provide training for Afghan forces. European nations offered more than 3,500 troops to help stem a tenacious Taliban-led insurgency. At least 10 teams of trainers and mentors for the Afghan security forces — both the army and police — were stumped up, totalling around an additional 500 personnel in all.

Lithuania came forward with more special forces for southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban and its backers in Al-Qaeda and among criminal gangs are most active, using rear bases across the border in Pakistan. At least half a dozen helicopters were pledged, plus funds to help run them often at high altitude in Afghanistan’s harsh, dry environment, but also three transport aircraft, medical teams and a field hospital. Belgium offered two F-16 fighter jets.

In terms of aid, more than 450 million euros (607 million dollars) were pledged, sources said, Britain with 200 million euros, Spain almost 130 million euros up to 2012, Germany 50 million euros and Norway over 40 million. The funds are earmarked for the elections, development aid, a trust fund to build up the Afghan army from 80,000 troops to around 134,000 by 2012, and to boost the rule of law.

Afghanistan seeks control over NATO deployments, Jason Straziuso and Amir Sha, AP, 21 January 2009

The Afghan government has sent NATO headquarters a draft agreement that would give Afghanistan more control over future NATO deployments in the country — including the deployment of some U.S. troops. The agreement would put into place rules of conduct for NATO-led troops in Afghanistan and the number of additional NATO troops and their location would have to be approved by the Afghan government.

Analysis and commentary

Order of Battle Coalition Combat Forces in Afghanistan – February 2009, Wesley Morgan, Institute for the Study of War.

Afghanistan War order of battle, Wikipedia

Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan [OEF-A 5], US Forces Order of Battle, 15 January 2005,

Military Operations: Afghanistan,

International Security Assistance Force, Wikipedia


Map of Operation Enduring Freedom Facilities (June 2005),

See also


Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional research: Ronald Li
Updated: 18 August 2010