NATO's decision to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan has forced the Alliance to think long and hard about the "how" associated with such a withdrawal. As a result the importance of the five Central Asian states - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - has increased significantly. These countries are concerned about their security after NATO's combat troops have left. They know that they cannot ensure this alone, but their limited faith in Russian and the West alike means that neither option seems to offer them a real solution in terms of security partnership.
By taking a look at the challenges posed both by the Central Asian region and by NATO's logistic system, the latest paper from the NATO Defense College examines why it is so hard to get out of Afghanistan. It also considers why the withdrawal of equipment, mainly envisaged across the territory of Afghanistan's northern neighbours, is a huge logistic and political challenge that cannot be managed as if it were a secondary issue. Central Asia is not a mere transit ground. To manage relations with the region and sustain its transition out of Afghanistan, NATO will have to address its long-term interests in Central Asia and engage in a broader effort to encourage regional dialogue and stability.
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