News | Nov. 20, 2017

16. Lessons from Afghanistan

By Jack D. Kem Effective, Legitimate, Secure: Insights for Defense Institution Building

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Shortly after the fall of the Taliban in December 2001, the United Nations hosted Afghan and world leaders in Bonn, Germany, to discuss and develop an agreement that would form the basis for international support to establish a representative form of government in Afghanistan. On December 5, 2001, the conferees adopted the Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-establishment of Permanent Government Institutions, or “The Bonn Agreement.” This agreement included the framework for drafting a new constitution for Afghanistan, established the interim authority for governance, and created the Afghan Supreme Court.

Also established was the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) to monitor and assist in the implementation of the Agreement. The signatories proposed the development of a United Nations-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help Afghan authorities establish and train new Afghan security and armed forces. ISAF would give the interim government the security that was necessary to develop governmental institutions and legislation while establishing the new Afghan National Security Force (ANSF). The UN endorsed the Bonn Agreement in UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1383 on December 6, 2001, and authorized the establishment of ISAF under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations in UNSCR 1386.

Shortly after the Bonn Conference, in April 2002, the United States and other nations met in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the requirements and funding needed to train the new ANSF. Using a “lead nation” approach, five nations volunteered to lead efforts in Afghanistan: the United States in establishing the Afghan National Army (ANA); Italy in establishing the judiciary system; Germany in establishing law enforcement agencies; Japan in disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating the Afghan Military Forces into society; and the United Kingdom in engaging in counter-narcotics. This “lead nation” approach changed over time as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) command and control structures, international coordination agencies, and host nation governmental institutions developed in Afghanistan, with NATO and, ultimately, the United States assuming a broader role.

The Afghan Interim Government and the international community refined the objectives of the Bonn Agreement at a number of subsequent conferences. The London Conference of 2006 marked a turning point in Afghan sovereignty. At the conference, world leaders signed the Afghanistan Compact and marked the end of the initial Bonn process. With the adoption of a new constitution and completion of a presidential election in 2004, and the completion of the parliamentary and provincial elections in 2005, Afghanistan was now ready to transition from the Interim Government through the Transitional Government to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA).

One of the key outcomes of the 2006 London Conference was the development of the Afghanistan Compact—an agreement that provided a shared vision of the future of Afghanistan, as well as a commitment by the international community to provide resources and support to realize that vision. The Afghanistan Compact also included a list of detailed outcomes, benchmarks, and timelines for both Afghanistan and the international community. The Afghanistan Compact established goals for the end of 2010 and a mechanism for coordinating Afghan and international efforts to achieve these goals. Security was a central theme in the Afghanistan Compact, which listed it as the first of three pillars of activity for the next five years (along with “Governance, Rule of Law, and Human Rights” and “Economic and Social Development”). The delegation recognized that “security cannot be provided by military means alone. It requires good governance, justice and the rule of law, reinforced by reconstruction and development.”1 It addressed the development of the ANA and the Afghan National Police (ANP) under the single concept of developing security forces, setting the benchmark ceilings of 70,000 for the ANA and 62,000 for the ANP.

In April 2009, the North Atlantic Council met at the NATO Summit in Strasbourg-Kehl, Germany. During this Summit, the Council decided to create NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) as a parallel effort to NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I). One of the key issues of the NTM-A charter was that ministerial development of the Afghan Ministries of Interior and Defense were not authorized.

In January 2010, key stakeholders met again in London. One week prior to the conference, the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) endorsed the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme of the Government of Afghanistan. The peace program had the intent to promote peace through a political approach and to encourage Taliban fighters and leaders, previously siding with armed opposition and extremist groups, to renounce violence and join a constructive process of reintegration. The program was in line with President Karzai’s vision for his second term as outlined in his inauguration speech. The JCMB also approved an increase in the number of soldiers in the ANA up to 171,600 and the number of police officers in the ANP up to 134,000 by October 2011.

The conference later that month, co-hosted by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, built on the work from the 2006 London Conference to continue to strengthen Afghan leadership, improve security, and build a better future for the Afghan people. According to Prime Minister Brown, the purpose of the conference was to “drive forward our campaign in Afghanistan, to match the increase in military forces with an increased political momentum, to focus the international community on a clear set of priorities across the 43-nation coalition and marshal the maximum international effort to help the Afghan government deliver.”2 Discussions focused on several key areas, including security, development, and governance, and the regional framework and international architecture. The London Conference, as well as the follow-on conference in Kabul held in July 2010, constituted “defining moments in the reconfiguration of the relationship between Afghanistan and the international community.”3

Later that year, a number of follow-on conferences and summits were held concerning the future of Afghanistan, including the Kabul Conference in July and the NATO Lisbon Summit in November. The Kabul Conference was a continuation of a number of international conferences (including the 2010 London Conference and Consultative Peace Jirga) that comprised the “Kabul Process.” The topic of security received thorough coverage and the conference welcomed the Afghan government’s intent to gain full authority over its own security, with an objective of having the ANSF in the lead of military operations throughout the country by the end of 2014. The international community also endorsed the continuation of the growth of the ANSF to 171,600 personnel in the ANA and 134,000 in the ANP by October 31, 2011.

The Lisbon Summit that November, was described by former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as “the most important summit in NATO’s history.”4 A wide-range of topics was discussed, including NATO’s New Strategic Concept, reforms to NATO’s Military Command Structure, the establishment of an Enduring Partnership between NATO and Afghanistan, affirmation of NATO’s “open door” admittance policy, and a commitment to a strategic partnership between NATO and Russia.5 Of the three major declarations that were issued at the Lisbon Summit, two directly related to the enduring commitment by NATO and ISAF to Afghanistan, emphasizing international support for the GIRoA in achieving the transition to an Afghan lead for security in all of the provinces in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, consistent with the Inteqal (transition) process that was agreed to at the July Kabul Conference.

Insights and Lessons

There are four key insights and lessons that can be derived from the background of security sector reform and defense institution building (DIB) efforts in Afghanistan described above. First, in the context of an active conflict, the participation of the international community is essential for success of DIB. Having the support of the international community provides legitimacy to efforts and fosters burden sharing to some extent. Second, the active participation of the international community comes at a price; it slows down efforts, can be frustrating at times, and not all members of the international community have the capacity or the will to share the burden equitably. In addition, differences in approach can cause friction; for police efforts, for instance, the concept of policing varies by country. Third, having host nation participation in international conferences and meetings is absolutely essential for success in an institutional transition. Finally, the language of international declarations, compacts, and agreements has great importance. Language that may seem benign at the time may have an enormous impact in the future for determining mandates and authorities.

Development of NTM-A/CSTC-A to Lead DIB Efforts in Afghanistan

The establishment of a separate three-star headquarters in Afghanistan as the “training command” was a vital step in creating the organizational structure to enable the eventual transition of full control to the Afghan government.

In November 2009, NATO approved the creation of the Training Mission-Afghanistan, or NTM-A.6 NTM-A was joined with the American Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, or CSTC-A, which had been responsible for training and advising the Afghan Army. The new, combined NTM-A/CSTC-A was a dual-hatted training command under a single commander—Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV—that would be both a U.S. and NATO headquarters.

According to the April 2010 U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) “Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan National Security Forces,” otherwise known as the “Section 1230/1231 Report,” the creation of NTM-A was a significant achievement in the ANSF development strategy:

NTM-A was established to provide a coordinated training mission for the ANSF, under a single NATO framework, to focus international contributions and standardize overall ANSF development efforts. The dual-hatted U.S. NTM-A/CSTC-A commander is synchronizing ANA and ANP training under a single umbrella, allowing him to draw on, and more effectively employ, in-theater resources. In addition to manning, training, equipping, and sustaining the ANSF, NTM-A is responsible for development of higher-level training, including defense colleges and academies, and is responsible for ANSF doctrine development. The U.S.-commanded CSTC-A retained the bilateral responsibility of the ministerial development missions within [Ministry of Defense] MOD and [Ministry of Interior] MOI, along with control over U.S. Title 10 (DOD) funding responsibilities through ASFF [Afghan Security Forces Fund].7

The NATO Summit in Strasbourg-Kehl in April 2009, established the charter for NTM-A—a charter that did not include ministerial development of the Afghan Ministries of Interior and Defense. As a result, although NTM-A and CSTC-A were for the most part an integrated headquarters, ministerial development for the Ministries of Interior and Defense were solely U.S. missions under CSTC-A.

In order to accomplish ministerial development, as well as force generation and the other missions of NTM-A/CSTC-A, Lieutenant General Caldwell structured his organization with two Deputy Commanders (DCOMs): one for the ANP and one for the ANA. Within these two DCOMs (both of which fell under the CSTC-A mandate), he created separate organizations for ministerial development: ANP Development under DCOM-Police, and ANA Development under DCOM-Army. All of the advisors for the respective ministries fell under one of these two DCOMs.

For both the MOD and MOI, NTM-A developed Ministerial Development Plans (MDPs). These plans provided an assessment of the respective ministries, with measures of effectiveness and measures of performance for all of the sub-elements of the ministries. Between the two ministries, there were over 500 advisors that maintained a daily presence in the ministries.

These 500 advisors were generally evenly spread out between the MOD and MOI. The rank structure of the advisors varied greatly; for the most senior officials in the ministries, the advisors were senior Colonels who advised their principal on a full-time basis. The majority of the advisors were dual-hatted with other responsibilities throughout CSTC-A. For these advisors, this provided a challenge in providing the continuity of assistance in developing the necessary institutions for the two ministries.

One of the major challenges for many of the advisors was the issue of translation; many of the senior Colonel-level advisors were provided translators to assist in advising. For those advisors who did not have full-time translators, the issue of language was a constant barrier to providing quality advising.

Funding Mechanisms

In order to sustain the development of the ANSF and supporting defense institutions, several funding mechanisms were developed by the United States and the international community, including the Afghan Security Forces Fund, the Law and Order Trust Fund, and the ANA Trust Fund. Afghanistan is highly dependent on donor countries to provide funding for DIB efforts. The impact of decades of war has decimated the economy, hence international support for a sustained period of time is necessary to ensure DIB efforts are completed and sustained.

The Afghan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) is a two-year appropriation within the U.S. Department of Defense Appropriations Act. Congress created the ASFF to provide the Afghan National Security Forces with equipment, supplies, services, training, and funding, as well as facility and infrastructure repair, renovation, and construction. Since 2002, ASFF appropriations have totaled almost $64 billion8. The wording of the legislation for the ASFF has been relatively consistent; the following is from the 2011 Defense Appropriation:

For the ‘Afghanistan Security Forces Fund’ . . . Provided, That such funds shall be available to the Secretary of Defense, notwithstanding any other provision of law, for the purpose of allowing the Commander, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, or the Secretary’s designee, to provide assistance, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, to the security forces of Afghanistan, including the provision of equipment, supplies, services, training, facility and infrastructure repair, renovation, and construction, and funding: Provided further, That the authority to provide assistance under this heading is in addition to any other authority to provide assistance to foreign nations: . . . Provided further, That contributions of funds for the purposes provided herein from any person, foreign government, or international organization may be credited to this Fund and used for such purposes: Provided further, That the Secretary of Defense shall notify the congressional defense committees in writing upon the receipt and upon the obligation of any contribution, delineating the sources and amounts of the funds received and the specific use of such contribution.9

Since the ASFF has traditionally been a two-year appropriation, this has provided flexibility in the commitment and obligation of funds. The “high-water” mark for the ASFF was in 2011 at $11 billion, and has decreased to under $4 billion since Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.10 The flexibility provided by having two-year appropriations enabled CSTC-A to develop multi-year programs without the normal constraints of single-year reconciliation of obligations and commitments. This was particularly helpful when dealing with construction delays due to the working environment in Afghanistan.

The Law and Order Trust Fund (LOTFA) is a fund administered by the UNDP to pay the salaries of the ANP and to assist in building the capacity of the Afghan MOI. Since 2002, almost $4.66 billion has been paid into LOTFA; the United States has paid almost $1.56 billion into the fund.11 The payment of funds for LOTFA contributions comes from CSTC-A’s ASFF funds; as such, the United States provides indirect payments for the salaries of the ANP. The LOTFA mechanism was critical to ensure that ANP salaries were paid in a timely manner—a crucial element for the ANPs success.

To enable NATO and ISAF members to provide support to the ANSF, NATO developed the ANA Trust Fund in 2007. This trust fund is administered through NATO Headquarters, but expenditures are through a separate budget activity in the ASFF. In FY 2012, the total amount budgeted from the NATO ANA Trust Fund was just under $116 million. Generally, these funds are earmarked for specific projects by the donor country.12 In 2010, NATO also created the NATO Literacy Trust Fund for Afghanistan, enabling countries to provide funds to support Literacy Programs for the ANA and ANP.

Ministerial Development in the Ministry of Defense

Within the Afghan MOD, CSTC-A was the largest provider of advisors, but not the only provider. There was a broader multinational effort to develop civil authority throughout the MOD. As a result, many offices there housed a U.S. advisor as well as an advisor from another country or international organization. This reality exposed the risk of initiating projects that were redundant, or in competition, with the efforts of other governmental and nongovernmental organizations operating within Afghanistan. That said, shortly after the 2002 Bonn Conference, the United States had been designated as the “lead nation” for establishing the ANA. Because of this long relationship with the ANA, and because the vast majority of the funding for the MOD came from the United States, the U.S. advisors were considered the senior advisors. This greatly contributed to unity of effort within the ministries and a common aim of meeting the goals and objectives of the MDPs.

The reach of the CSTC-A advisors was also extensive; CSTC-A provided advisors throughout the MOD and to Army headquarters and functions above the Corps level, which also included the Army schools, logistical facilities, and the Afghan Air Force. This provided a level of oversight and advising for many of the functional areas of the MOD. For example, within the logistics function, CSTC-A had advisors with the Deputy Minister of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, with the ANA General Staff G4/Chief of Logistics, with the Afghan depots throughout the country, and with the Logistics School. This enabled CSTC-A to develop MDPs for not only specific units and headquarters, but also for functions such as logistics and intelligence.

Ministerial Development in the Ministry of Interior

Within the Ministry of Interior, CSTC-A was again the largest provider of advisors, but not the only provider. The international effort to assist in developing the police and the law enforcement system was much more extensive than that of the Army. There were a number of reasons for this: first, the United States was not the original “lead nation” for establishing the ANP—Germany had been assigned that role after the Bonn Conference in 2002, but the United States became increasingly involved in 2005 when it became clear that Germany’s Kabul-centric approach was not working. Second, although the United States provided the majority of the funding for the MOI, this funding was indirect and provided through the Law and Order Trust Fund-Afghanistan (LOTFA), which was managed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Third, the European Union provided police development support through the European Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan). Finally, the international community had established the International Police Coordination Board (IPCB), which provided oversight of police development.

As the original “lead nation” for establishing law enforcement agencies in Afghanistan, Germany still played a major role as late as 2011 in the development of the ANP. The German Police Project Team (GPPT) continued to support the efforts of NTM-A/CSTC-A by training and mentoring Afghan police recruits and trainers. The GPPT consisted of approximately 200 German police officers that volunteered to come to Afghanistan to train and mentor Afghan police forces. The GPPT also supported literacy training for Afghan police recruits. Congruently, the German government was involved in the construction of police stations in northern Afghanistan and police checkpoints throughout the country.

In 2007, in addition to the GPPT, the European Union established EUPOL Afghanistan in order to unite international contributions to police reform in Afghanistan under one organization. The EUPOL mission statement describes best their charter:

EUPOL Afghanistan shall significantly contribute to the establishment under Afghan ownership of sustainable and effective civilian policing arrangements, which will ensure appropriate interaction with the wider criminal justice system, in keeping with the policy advice and institution building work of the Community, Member States and other international actors. Further, the Mission will support the reform process towards a trusted and efficient police service, which works in accordance with international standards, within the framework of the rule of law and respects human rights.13

EUPOL Afghanistan had six strategic objectives: police command, control, and communications; intelligence-led policing; criminal investigation department capacity building; implementation of the anti-corruption strategy; police-justice cooperation; and strengthening gender and human rights aspects within the ANP.14 As of June 20, 2011, EUPOL’s mission strength consisted of 295 international personnel and 172 Afghan nationals. The international personnel consisted of 166 police officers, 44 rule of law experts, and 85 civilian experts, with 208 of the personnel deployed in Kabul, 84 in the regions, and 3 in the Mission Support Element in Brussels.

Insights and Lessons

There are a number of insights and lessons that can be derived from the development of NTM-A/CSTC-A to lead DIB efforts in Afghanistan. First, the active participation of the international community is, again, essential for success of ministerial development, particularly within the MOI and MOD as they require linkage to the corrections and court systems. Second, as noted above, the language of international declarations, compacts, and agreements may have an enormous impact in the future for determining mandates and authorities; for ministerial development, the language of the NTM-A charter had a dramatic impact on the mandate for CSTC-A and an impact on the legitimacy of U.S. actions. Third, funding reliability and spending flexibility is key in a contingency operation, but this requires sufficient mechanisms to ensure that funds are committed and obligated within the letter and the spirit of the law. In addition, working through external funding mechanisms, such as LOTFA, provides legitimacy, but also provides less accountability and control. Finally, the terms used to describe “mentors” or “advisors” can have an emotional connotation; “mentors” indicates a level of superiority, which is not always well-received by the “mentee” (especially if the “mentor” is a U.S. Colonel and the “mentee” is an Afghan General Officer). Even the less offensive term of “advisor” can cause problems; in Afghanistan, “advisor” was the same term the Soviets used for their “mentors” providing the same function.

Initiatives to Strengthen Defense Institutions in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, there were four areas that were particularly troublesome in developing the necessary institutions: literacy, gender equality and integration, the rule of law, and corruption. All four of these areas constituted barriers that needed to be addressed in order to develop quality institutions that could be sustained. Therefore, after the establishment of NTM-A, a number of initiatives were undertaken to ensure that the focus for the ANSF was not only on quantity, but also on quality. These initiatives were designed to ensure that the ANSF is well-led, well-trained, well-equipped, well-paid, and increasingly literate.

ANSF Literacy Program

Literacy was the first issue identified as a major barrier to DIB efforts in Afghanistan. Having a basic level of literacy across the security forces is a requirement for developing the systems and organizations to develop sustainable institutions.

Prior to 2009, the CSTC-A literacy program for the ANSF was nascent and disjointed, with the existing ANA and ANP programs running independently of a common curriculum and framework. In November 2009, there were fewer than 13,000 students in literacy training across the ANSF. None of the training was mandatory, and the ANSF lacked any form of testing system. At that time, only 14 percent of the ANP and the ANA recruits demonstrated any level of literacy proficiency. NTM-A/CSTC-A immediately established a strategy focused on growing educational capacity to ensure all recruits received literacy training, and simultaneously established initial entry placement procedures. Standardized evaluations were developed in coordination with the Afghan Ministry of Education, creating one standard between the military and the police.

On March 13, 2010, Lieutenant General Caldwell initiated mandatory literacy training in the ANSF, starting with the goal of achieving first grade literacy based on a 64-hour block of instruction for soldiers and police attending basic training. By late summer 2010, the ANSF had approximately 25,000 students in training. NTM-A/CSTC-A aimed to have 50,000 students in training by December 2010, and 100,000 students in training by July 2011.

By August 2011, NTM-A/CSTC-A had over 3,000 literacy instructors providing classes to roughly 80,000 students. Additionally, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) was providing literacy training to 4,500 of the ANP in the Regional Command-North (RC-North) area of operations. From November 2009 to August 2011, over 120,000 soldiers and police had completed some level of literacy training.

The key goal of the literacy program was to develop a stable, secure Afghanistan, built in one part by a literate, educated society, which would be less prone to harboring terrorists and would bring much needed stability to the region. The literacy program also enabled the defense institutions in Afghanistan to develop systems and organizations that could be sustained for the long term. Without these systems and organizations, the Afghan defense institutions would remain dependent on ISAF and donor countries to provide needed functions.

ANSF Gender Integration Efforts

Gender equality and integration also posed a significant impediment to building strong defense institutions. Gender equality and integration were considered “human rights” issues, and allowing all Afghan citizens the opportunity to serve was a goal that was shared by the Afghan government and ISAF nations. The Afghan government has participated actively in multinational agreements supporting gender integration and has incorporated gender integration into its foundational legislation. The international community is invested in Afghanistan, and is scrutinizing how Afghanistan meets its obligations under the United Nations agreements. The Constitution of Afghanistan declares that men and women have equal rights and duties before the law, and the GIRoA has integrated or mainstreamed gender into its stated national goals and into government at all levels. The MOI and MOD have an obligation to contribute to the attainment of national goals on gender equality.

From November 2009 to November 2011, NTM-A/CSTC-A established initiatives to reinforce MOI and MOD gender integration programs. Many of these activities were intended to bolster gender integration through transition. These initiatives established liaison, guidance, training, and fostering better partnership with the MOI and MOD. NTM-A established an Integration and Human Rights office focused on gender initiatives and assigned an advisor to the MOI Chief for Gender, Integration and Human Rights from the Office of the Assistant Commanding General for Police Development (ACG-PD). Additionally, Counterinsurgency Training Center-Afghanistan instructors trained leaders and advisors on techniques to incorporate gender perspectives as part of their counterinsurgency curriculum.

In spite of these efforts, gender integration in the ANA and ANP has been disappointing. The 2014 goal was to have 9,500 women in the ANA, and at least 5,000 women in the ANP. These efforts fell far short of their ambitious goals.

Continued gender integration and the inclusion of women in Afghan defense institutions can have a dramatic impact on the future competency of its defense sector. Continuing these efforts will not only improve the representation of women within the defense sector; as a greater number of trained and competent women are integrated throughout the security forces, it will increase the human resources available for the Afghan government to secure and defend its population.

Rule of Law Efforts

Solid social institutions and a clearly established rule of law are critical enablers to the development of an orderly and just society. Establishing the rule of law in support of DIB, therefore, is a critical focus to set the stage for enduring institutions that respect the rights of their citizens.

The Afghan government and the international community have recognized the need for a unified approach to rule of law. In 2009, President Karzai requested from President Obama that the United States lead the international community on helping to build capable Afghan government institutions, rather than continue to rely, beyond the near term, on parallel systems and processes of governance. Subsequently, the U.S. State Department established a U.S. Mission Rule of Law Coordinator in Kabul in 2010. The success of the Rule of Law Coordinator, however, was highly dependent on the spirit of cooperation between the various U.S. entities operating in Afghanistan, as he had no direct supervisory authority over many of them.

NATO implemented a new initiative in July 2011 to facilitate the extension of GIRoA governance into the rural districts with the NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission. This organization was charged with furnishing essential field capabilities, liaison, and security to Afghan and international civilian providers of technical assistance. These experts, deployed in Afghanistan’s provinces and districts, sought to build Afghan criminal justice capacity, increase access to dispute resolution services, and improve Afghan governance.15 All of these efforts by the NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission contributed to the GIRoA’s limited ability to enforce the law at the local level. Resource shortfalls hindered the institution’s performance of providing rule according to law, though in areas where the GIRoA can operate securely, it has demonstrated the ability to exercise transparent and accountable rule of law actions.

This is most evident within the ANSF, where NTM-A/CSTC-A facilitated the establishment of a system of checks and balances within the military justice system. These systems were somewhat effective at the time, but the results were not consistent due to the lack of coordination between the various actors in the military justice system. Both the ANA and ANP legal officers were active in establishing and promoting the rule of law within their organizations.

For DIB, a rule of law strategy must look beyond the establishment of institutions and the codification of legislation, to focus on the results, or the ends. Without the establishment of the rule of law, the tenuous security provided by the Afghan military and police will only provide temporary stability and a fading illusion of governmental legitimacy.

Anti-Corruption Programs

Corruption was widely considered to be prevalent throughout the Afghan defense and security ministries, and was particularly troublesome for many of the donor countries as they provided funding for defense institutions. In 2010, ISAF, in coordination with the international community and the Afghan government, established the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force (CJIATF)-Shafafiyat “to develop a common understanding of corruption, to support Afghan-led anti-corruption efforts, and to integrate ISAF anti-corruption activities with those of key partners.”16 The U.S. DOD stated that CJIATF-Shafafiyat is “intended to neutralize criminal patronage networks (CPNs) in Afghanistan.”17 The task force aimed to accomplish this by fostering a common understanding of the corruption problem, planning and coordinating ISAF anti-corruption efforts, and integrating ISAF anticorruption activities with the efforts of key partners.

CJIATF-Shafafiyat had three subordinate task forces: Task Force Spotlight investigated the issue of pilferage along U.S. ground supply lines; Task Force 2010 developed visibility of the flow of contracting funds within Afghanistan at and below the prime contractor level to improve contracting in support of counterinsurgency operations; and CJIATF-Nexus identified and analyzed the confluence of narcotics, corruption, the insurgency, threat finance, and power brokers in Regional Commands South and Southwest to enable synchronized military, law enforcement, and engagement effects.

NTM-A/CSTC-A’s efforts included support to Inspector General Systems and the Staff Judge Advocate, including the development of transparency and accountability programs. In line with accountability, NTM-A/CSTC-A reinforced stewardship, focusing initially on accountability of vehicles, followed by weapons, communications equipment, and night vision goggles. NTM-A/CSTC-A also supported MOI and MOD development of financial systems, to include the NATO Building Integrity program in conjunction with Transparency International, and developed the Afghan First program to provide direct support to vendors to ensure accountability and adherence to standards. Finally, NTM-A established a corruption hotline to enable employees to anonymously report corrupt behavior.

Addressing the issue of corruption is enormously important in DIB. Corruption can easily thwart the efficiency of defense institutions and erode the trust that is necessary for those institutions—trust that must be developed within the country as well as with allies and partners.

Insights and Lessons

There are a number of insights and lessons that can be derived from these various initiatives for DIB efforts in Afghanistan:

  • Literacy is a game changer: Without basic literacy skills, most DIB efforts will never get off the ground. Defense institutions require a literate, educated workforce to meet the challenges of today. In Afghanistan, this required an all-out effort to immediately incorporate literacy education at all levels, which was resource intensive. For future DIB efforts, literacy has to be an important component of ensuring that both quality and quantity are addressed at the onset.
  • Gender rights are about human rights: Gender integration is difficult to address in many parts of the world. Defense institutions should be representative of the societies they serve. In Afghanistan, gender integration was particularly difficult due to societal and cultural norms, which differed significantly from Western norms. However, gender integration is not only the right thing to do in terms of human rights, but also is effective in serving the greater needs of a society and providing enhanced security.
  • The rule of law is critical for DIB; the bottom line has to be that what is written is understood and enforced: One particular problem in Afghanistan was the linkage of the formal rule of law system and the traditional rule of law systems. Issues of jurisdiction, vetting of officials, and appellate processes must be identified at the onset of future DIB efforts.
  • Corruption is also a game changer: Fighting corruption requires presence, persistence, and setting an example. Corruption, unfortunately, is prevalent in many defense institutions throughout the world. In the context of DIB, corruption can create an enormous resistance to change and to the development of a system of checks and balances. Many of the efforts in Afghanistan addressed these challenges, but required persistence as “work-arounds” were often developed by corrupt officials.

U.S. Ministry of Defense Advisors Program

In July 2010, DOD developed a new civilian program that demonstrated potential to help meet a significant capability gap for DIB efforts in Afghanistan called the Ministry of Defense Advisors (MODA) Program. This program, authorized under the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce (CEW), was designed to provide DOD civilian advisors to Afghan and Iraqi ministerial counterparts to help them develop specific ministerial competencies (including personnel and readiness, logistics, strategy and policy, and financial management).

DOD designed the MODA program as a mechanism that would link specific advisory requirements from defense ministries in the combat theater with U.S. DOD civilians with matching, relevant experience. The MODA program began with a focus on the Afghan MOD, but operational requirements to support police force generation as part of the national security forces, resulted in the expansion of the program to include the MOI. The original 17 MoDA volunteers arrived at NTM-A /CSTC-A in July 2010: 7 served with MOI, 8 advised MOD, and two advisors had split responsibilities at both ministries. In addition, the pilot program deployed an additional 16 MODAs in March 2011. By August, the number of advisors totaled 47.

On average, the MODA advisors had 20 or more years of experience, and came from diverse specialty areas across DOD. The 47 MODAs were generally partnered with traditional defense offices supporting policy and procedure development for personnel management and logistics. Many of the MODA program advisors, however, provided unique capabilities. One would not expect to find employees from organizations such as the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) and the Department of Defense Education Activity serving as advisors in Afghanistan, but the requirements needed to support the development of MOD and MOI in Afghanistan called for a far broader array of expertise than that which would seem immediately obvious.

An example of such special expertise was the MODA advisor for the MOD slaughterhouse. This organization provides the entire Afghan National Army with food. Before the implementation of the MODA program, this advisor position was filled with a uniformed military advisor, but through MODa, this position was filled with a senior civilian from DeCA with over 20 years of meat processing experience. He successfully advised both the MOD slaughterhouse and a government sewing factory that provided uniforms to the Afghan Security Forces.

Insights and Lessons

There are a number of insights and lessons that can be drawn from the discussion of funding and resourcing mechanisms for DIB efforts in Afghanistan:

  • The MODA program was a great success, but it is a limited program, and there must be greater support for the U.S. personnel involved.
  • The MODA program, drawing on the civilian expertise in the DOD, has capacity and capability that cannot be met by uniformed personnel.
  • The MODA program also addresses the issue of “uniforms advising civilians.” When developing defense institutions, the principle of civilian control over the military is important and should be reinforced; the MODA program provides an excellent vehicle to support this critical principle.

Oversight and Coordination Mechanisms for DIB Efforts in Afghanistan

International Police Coordination Board

The international community established the Afghan-chaired International Police Coordination Board (IPCB) to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach among the international community, and to provide support to the Afghan MOI in the development of policies, strategy, and plans in the area of police reform. The IPCB also ensures political coherence within the international community by comparing and coordinating police reform initiatives implemented within Afghanistan. The IPCB was a critical body that helped to incorporate the diverse interests of the Afghan MOI, the international community, and ISAF. For example, all efforts to increase the size or structure of the ANP required coordination with the IPCB; this enhanced the overall coordination of efforts in Afghanistan for police reform and rule of law efforts.

Joint Coordination Monitoring Board

The most enduring and influential institution from the “Kabul Process” is the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, or JCMB. The Afghanistan Compact, from the 2006 London Conference, outlined the role of the JCMB:

The Afghan Government and the international community recognize that the success of the Afghanistan Compact requires strong political, security and financial commitment to achieve the benchmarks within the agreed timelines. Equally, the success of the Compact relies on an effective coordination and monitoring mechanism . . . . To this end, and in addition to existing sectoral coordination mechanisms, the Afghan Government and the international community are establishing a Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board with the participation of senior Afghan Government officials appointed by the President and representatives of the international community. The Board will be co-chaired by a senior Afghan Government official appointed by the President and by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan. Its purpose would be to ensure overall strategic coordination of the implementation of the Compact.

The JCMB was established as a high level decision making body focusing on resolving strategic problems arising from the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact with three specific objectives:

Provide high-level oversight of progress in the implementation of the political commitments of the Afghanistan Compact; Provide direction to address significant issues of coordination, implementation, financing for the benchmarks and timelines in the Compact, and any other obstacles and bottlenecks identified either by the government or international community; and Report on the implementation of the Compact to the President, National Assembly, the UN Secretary General, the donors, and the public.18

The JCMB is co-chaired by the SRSG for Afghanistan and the Senior Economic Advisor to the President of Afghanistan. Each of the three “pillars” (Security; Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights; and Economic and Social Development) has a standing committee for consideration of proposals to the JCMB. The formal JCMB meetings include a wide variety of Afghan and international representatives—including representatives from all of the donor countries, United Nations agencies, international financial institutions, international security forces, and relevant nongovernmental organizations and civil society representatives. The JCMB meetings provide a formal mechanism for each of the participants to “weigh in” on decisions made in Afghanistan.

ISAF Internal Mechanisms

ISAF had a variety of internal mechanisms that were helpful in ensuring coordination in Afghanistan that went beyond military considerations, but also coordinated actions between the ambassadors in Kabul, the United Nations, the European Union, and leaders of the various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Afghanistan. These included frequent meetings on a variety of topics, including transition, campaign planning, and anti-corruption efforts. Within ISAF, there was broad civil-military cooperation. The NATO Senior Civilian Representative (SCR) played a major role in coordinating actions alongside the ISAF Commander.

U.S. Internal Mechanisms

A somewhat non-intuitive area that provided a means to inform and educate the international community came from the various U.S. agency audits and inspections conducted at NTM-A. These U.S. agencies included the Government Accountability Office, Department of Defense Inspector General, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and the Army Audit Agency. These four different agencies were continually conducting audits and inspections of NTM-A; during the last half of 2011, over 25 audits and inspections were on-going.

Each of these audits and inspections resulted in a written report; these reports were also posted on the Internet and received wide readership. As a result, these reports were a means to inform and educate the readers on the status of NTM-A and the training mission. Because the reports were conducted by agencies external to NTM-A, they provided independent and objective analysis of the situation in Afghanistan.

In addition to U.S audits and inspections, there were also a number of independent agencies that provided written reports related directly to NTM-A. These included the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Oxfam, the Asia Foundation, and the International Crisis Group. Although the reports from these agencies were normally written without close collaboration with NTM-A, they also served to inform and educate the international community.

Insights and Lessons

There are a number of insights and lessons to distill from the discussion on oversight mechanisms for DIB efforts in Afghanistan: first, international oversight mechanisms, such as the IPCB and JCMB, provide legitimacy to actions and provide a good sounding board for proposals. Second, host nations should have a real voice in oversight mechanisms. Third, military headquarters, such as ISAF, have a key role in supporting and coordinating civil-military operations. The presence of senior civilians within these organizations, as well as formal mechanisms to ensure coordination, helps to foster the working relationships that are necessary to accomplish true integration of civil-military operations. Finally, audits and inspections are necessary to ensure accountability.


Although the focus of this chapter is on DIB, and by necessity, discussing the efforts of NTM-A/CSTC-A, this is insufficient for success in a conflict zone. Success in DIB requires success on the battlefield; it requires success politically; it requires success economically; and it requires success in getting the story out. DIB requires balancing efforts between capability and capacity, as well as quality and quantity. In addition, efforts such as gender integration or rule of law, must necessarily take cultural considerations into account. Ultimately, DIB efforts require agility—for instance the flexibility to shift resources or adapt to changing circumstances on the ground—as necessary for ultimate success.

In addition to these insights from the major sections of this chapter, three over-arching lessons can be observed through the U.S. experience in Afghanistan regarding gaining legitimacy, unity of effort, and resources.

Gaining Legitimacy from International Cooperation

In U.S. DOD Joint Doctrine, there are twelve “Principles of Joint Operations.” These include the traditional nine principles of war (objective, offensive, mass, maneuver, economy of force, unity of command, security, surprise, and simplicity), but also include three additional principles: restraint, perseverance, and legitimacy. The purpose of the principle of legitimacy is “to maintain legal and moral authority in the conduct of operations.”19 Joint doctrine continues by stating that “all actions must be considered in the light of potentially competing strategic and tactical requirements, and must exhibit fairness in dealing with competing factions where appropriate. Legitimacy may depend on adherence to objectives agreed to by the international community, ensuring the action is appropriate to the situation, and fairness in dealing with various factions.”20

Engaging all factions of the international community is absolutely necessary, and well worth the effort expended. Without this engagement of the international community, failure is all but assured. This is particularly true in DIB, especially when engaging with the international community in conflict zones. In some environments, host countries may request assistance from coalition partners, whereas in other environments, assistance may take place between the receiving country and the United States in a bilateral arrangement. Understanding these parameters is critical in ensuring unity of effort.

Establishing Unity of Effort

In the same light, engaging all partners helps to establish a unity of effort. Unified action—where all are generally going in the same direction with the same intent—is hard work. Having a clearly defined end state and purpose applies at the tactical as well as the strategic level. This unity of effort is critical within U.S. agencies, as well as with international partners.

In NTM-A, there were three imperatives from 2009-2011: teaming, transparency, and transition. Teaming with all of the stakeholders was an imperative; transparency was to keep all of the stakeholders informed of efforts, both positive and negative; and transition was the imperative to set the conditions for transition from international partners to Afghan leadership for training programs and security responsibility throughout the country.

These three concepts are enduring and should be applied in all future DIB efforts. Unity of effort can be achieved through constant attention to teaming, ensuring that transparency is exercised in all actions, and focusing on the overall transition to civil authorities and sustainable defense institutions.


One of the most important lessons from Afghanistan is that all resources are precious, and while funding and personnel resourcing are important, the greatest resource challenge is time. Fifteen years of fighting a “long war” is exhausting to the men in women in uniform as well as the public. As an ISAF staff officer said in November 2009, “We’ve got to show progress by the end of next year . . . by fall, the end of the calendar year with proof that is unequivocal that it’s working . . . we don’t get to define that.”21 DIB efforts are resource intensive; developing sustainable and professional defense institutions can easily take a generation and enormous assets—and this level of effort is difficult to sustain. This issue of time is often compounded within the context of a conflict. As a result, future DIB efforts must remain focused at all times on the critical tasks rather than the urgent tasks at hand.

A Final Note

On April 27, 2011, nine U.S. citizens were killed at Kabul International Airport; eight were active duty Air Force advisors to the Afghan Air Force and the ninth was a retired Army officer serving as a contractor in support of the advising mission. The events of that day were incredibly devastating to the author’s command. These nine U.S. citizens were serving their country in Afghanistan and were killed by an Afghan Air Force Colonel during a meeting. These nine men were away from their families, doing what they could to assist the development of a professional Afghan Air Force, and they were all murdered for their efforts.

There was a ramp-side ceremony later to send the remains back to the United States, followed by somber memorial ceremonies at both the headquarters and at the airport. That evening, one of the British officers quietly went to the flagpoles with his bagpipe and played “Amazing Grace.” At the conclusion of his playing the hymn, he quietly saluted the flags and marched off to his office. It was his way of giving tribute to the fallen, which was met with silence throughout the headquarters. These nine brave men made a difference and were truly focused on the important things in life.

This tragic event was a time of reflection, a time to consider just exactly what we were doing in Afghanistan. Our mission was to enable the Afghans to secure their own country and to establish the conditions so we could leave.

Ultimately, DIB is a people business. Individuals make a difference. In the context of conflict, each person contributes to the mission with the full knowledge that they could pay the ultimate sacrifice. We do it for love of country and for our brothers in arms.

The events at Kabul International Airport happened just two days after ANZAC Day, which is observed on April 25th of each year to commemorate the anniversary of the first major military action by the Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. During ANZAC Day, there is always a reading of a poem by Laurence Binyon entitled “Ode to the Fallen”:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.


1 The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the International Community, The Afghanistan Compact, Outcome of the London Conference on Afghanistan January 31-February 1, 2006, available at <>.

2 Remarks by Gordon Brown, cited in “Brits Remind Obama Who’s in Charge,” November 29, 2009, available at <>.

3 Ban Ki-moon, “Statement on Afghanistan,” November 28, 2009, available at <>.

4 Anders Fogh Rasmussen, “NATO, the Strategic Concept and the way forward,” November 19, 2010, available at <>.

5 NATO, Strategic Concept for the Defence and Security of the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation adopted by Heads of State and Government in Lisbon, November 19, 2010, available at <>.

6 Department of Defense, “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan and United States Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan National Security Forces,” Report 1230/1231, 2010, available at <>, 14.

7 Ibid., 92.

8 Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), “SIGAR Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” July 30, 2016, available at <>, 65.

9 “Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011,” 125 Stat. 90-91, Public Law 112-10, April 15, 2011, available at <>, 154-155.

10 Special Inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, op. cit., 70.

11 Ibid., 79.

12 NATO, “Afghanistan National Army Trust Fund,” NATO Media Backgrounder, July 2016, available at


13 Council of the European Union, Council Joint Action 2007/369/CFSP of 30 May 2007 on establishment of the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan, May 30, 2007, available at <>, 7.

14 Council of the European Union, “EUPOL Afghanistan Factsheet,” European Union Common Security and Defense Policy, Updated February 2014, available at <>.

15 Mark Martins, “Legitimacy, Officer Juries, and the Limits of Command in Reformed Military Commissions,” Remarks at Harvard Law School, April 3, 2012, available at <>.

16 UN Security Council, “Quarterly report to the Security Council on the operations of the International Security Assistance Force,” December 29, 2010, available at <>.

17 Department of Defense, “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan and United States Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan National Security Forces,” April 2011, available at <>, 14.

18 “Information on JCMB Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB),” available at <>.

19 Joint Publication 3-0, “Joint Operations,” August 11, 2011, available at <>, A-4.

20 Ibid.

21 Anonymous ISAF Staff Officer, 2009.