The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has since the turn of the new century experienced a double transformation gap: between global and regionally oriented allies and between allies emulating new military practices defined by the United States and allies resisting radical change. This article takes stock of these gaps in light of a decade’s worth of collective and national adjustments and in light of counter-insurgency lessons provided by Afghanistan. It argues first of all that the latter transatlantic gap is receding in importance because the United States has adjusted its transformation approach and because some European allies have significantly invested in technological, doctrinal, and organizational reform. The other transformation gap is deepening, however, pitching battle-hardened and expeditionary allies against allies focused on regional tasks of stabilization and deterrence. There is a definite potential for broad transformation, our survey of officers’ opinion shows, but NATO’s official approach to transformation, being broad and vague, provides neither political nor military guidance. If NATO is to move forward and bridge the gap, it must clarify the lessons of Afghanistan and embed them in its new Strategic Concept.
War disciplines militaries: it forces them to refine, and sometimes revise, their tactics, techniques and technologies, or risk defeat in battle. Yet there is no theory of how militaries improve in war. This article develops a theory of military adaptation, which it applies to an analysis of the British campaign in Helmand from 2006 to 2009. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources (military plans, post operation reports and interviews), it shows how British brigades adapted different ways of using combat power to try and defeat the Taliban from 2006-07, and how from late 2007, British brigades have adapted a new population-centric approach that has focused more on influence operations and non-kinetic activities.
The overarching Western objective in Afghanistan should be to prevent that country from becoming not just a haven for transnational terrorists, but a terrorist ally as well. That was the situation prior to 9/11 and it would be so again if the Taliban returned to power with al-Qaeda backing. NATO can prevent this indefinitely as long as it is willing to commit significant military and economic resources to a counter-insurgency effort. It cannot eliminate the threat, however, as long as the Afghan insurgents enjoy sanctuary in and support from Pakistan. Alternatively, this objective could be achieved if the Taliban could be persuaded to cut its ties to al-Qaeda and end its insurgency in exchange for some role in Afghan governance short of total control.
This article reassesses the extent to which the British Army has been able to adapt to the counter-insurgency campaign in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. While adopting Farrell’s definition of bottom-up military adaptation, this article contends that the task force/brigade level of analysis adopted by Farrell and Farrell and Gordon has led them to overstate the degree to which innovation arising from processes of bottom-up adaptation has actually ensued. Drawing on lower level tactical unit interviews and other data, this article demonstrates how units have been unable or unwilling to execute non-kinetic population-centric operations due to their lack of understanding of the principles of counter-insurgency warfare.
I n July 2009, the Center for Complex Operations (CCO) facilitated a workshop sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to capture the experiences of USDA agricultural advisors deployed to ministries and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq and Afghanistan. The discussions yielded numerous individual observations, insights, and potential lessons from the work of these advisors on PRTs in these countries. This article presents a broad overview of the challenges identified by the conference participants and highlights key recommendations generated as a result of suggestions and comments made at the workshop. The workshop was intended to capture insights and lessons from the !eld to develop recommendations for improvements in PRT operations, with a particular focus on agricultural development. The 30 participants came from a broad spectrum of USDA: the National Resources Conservation Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration. To focus the agenda, CCO and USDA designed a preworkshop survey administered to the 30 USDA returnees (22 from Iraq and 8 from Afghanistan). After receiving 24 responses, CCO and USDA used the results to develop an agenda built around facilitated group discussions in four areas: doctrine and guidance, civil-military cooperation and command and control relationships, projects and their impact on the host nation, and administrative issues.
Most aid spending by governments seeking to rebuild social and political order is based on an opportunity-cost theory of distracting potential recruits. The logic is that gainfully employed young men are less likely to participate in political violence, implying a positive correlation between unemployment and violence in locations with active insurgencies. The authors test that prediction in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines, using survey data on unemployment and two newly available measures of insurgency: (1) attacks against government and allied forces and (2) violence that kill civilians. Contrary to the opportunity-cost theory, the data emphatically reject a positive correlation between unemployment and attacks against government and allied forces (p < .05 percent). There is no significant relationship between unemployment and the rate of insurgent attacks that kill civilians. The authors identify several potential explanations, introducing the notion of insurgent precision to adjudicate between the possibilities that predation on one hand, and security measures and information costs on the other, account for the negative correlation between unemployment and violence in these three conflicts.
In countries affected by insurgencies, development programs may potentially reduce violence by improving economic outcomes and increasing popular support for the government. In this paper, we test the efficacy of this approach through a large-scale randomized controlled trial of the largest development program in Afghanistan at the height of the Taliban insurgency. We find that the program generally improved economic outcomes, increased support for the government, and reduced insurgent violence. However, in areas close to the Pakistani border, the program did not increase support for the government and actually increased insurgent violence. This heterogeneity in treatment effects appears to be due to differences between districts in the degree of infiltration by external insurgents, who are not reliant on the local population for support. The results suggest that while development programs can quell locally-based insurgencies, such programs may be counterproductive when implemented in areas where insurgents are not embedded in the local population.
International peace-building interventions in post-conflict countries are intended to transform the socio-political context that led to violence and thereby build a stable and lasting peace. Yet the UN’s transitional governance approach to peace-building is ill-suited to the challenge of dealing with the predatory political economy of insecurity that often emerges in post-conflict societies. Evidence from peace-building attempts in Cambodia, East Timor and Afghanistan illustrates that the political economy incentives facing domestic elites in an environment of low credibility and weak institutionalisation lead to a cycle of patronage generation and distribution that undermine legitimate and effective governance. As a result, post-conflict countries are left vulnerable to renewed conflict and persistent insecurity. International interventions can only craft lasting peace by understanding the political economy of conflict persistence and the potential policy levers for altering, rather than perpetuating, those dynamics.
In recent years, international organizations have concluded that standard principles of Public Finance Management (PFM) are equally applicable to all areas of the national budget, including the security sector. In many cases long-term external assistance may be required for the security sector, generating severe trade-offs with other priority sectors which also require long-term external support. Overcoming the legacy of a fiscally unsustainable and poorly managed security sector calls for full application of PFM principles to support the establishment of checks and balances required to establish a wholly accountable security sector. The recent World Bank PFM review of Afghanistan, perhaps the first example of such a review, provides a number of lessons, summarized in this note. Some of these include: security in post-conflict situations is a key condition for a return to political normalcy and conversely, development is also needed for security; PFM practices can take into consideration the most complex and confidential issues without undermining the application of the fundamental principles of accountability to elected civil authorities; and reviewing security reform through a PFM lens reduces risks and costs to both the country concerned and donors.
This note, summarizing the analysis and recommendations of an upcoming CPR Working Paper of the same title, looks at issues related to financing modalities and aid management arrangements in post-conflict situations. It makes a number of recommendations based on a review of several recent case studies, of which four are assessed in detail: West Bank and Gaza, Bosnia and Herzegovina, East Timor, and Afghanistan. It focuses on the lessons of experience on multi-donor trust funds and on the recipient government’s aid management architecture in post-conflict settings. This paper is concerned with the specific issues of financing modalities and aid management arrangements in post-conflict situations, and advances a number of recommendations on the basis of a review of several recent cases, among which four are assessed in detail: West Bank and Gaza, Bosnia and Herzegovina, East Timor (Timor-Leste) and Afghanistan. While generally applicable recommendations do emerge from the review, the most important recommendation is to tailor the design and sequencing of financing and aid coordination to the circumstances of the specific case.