Divided Responsibility: Lessons from U.S. Security Sector Assistance Efforts in Afghanistan
(Source: Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan; issued June 2019)
This report examines the patchwork of security sector assistance programs undertaken by dozens of U.S. entities and international partners to develop the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), Ministry of Defense (MOD), and Ministry of Interior (MOI) since 2001.

After 17 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and security-related U.S. appropriations totaling $83.3 billion, there is not one person, agency, country, or military service that has had sole responsibility for overseeing security sector assistance (SSA). Instead, the responsibility was divided among multiple U.S. and international entities. This report examines how these divides had unintended consequences and created challenges to the effectiveness of the mission, as well as some benefits.

While the dual-hatted U.S.-NATO commander is largely responsible for reconstructing the ANDSF, MOD, and MOI, the commander has no direct authority over civilians operating within embassies, the European Union, and other international organizations. Moreover, the commander does not have absolute authority to dictate the methods and activities NATO countries use to train and advise the ANDSF in different parts of Afghanistan. This created asymmetries in ANDSF development and impeded the standardization of security sector assistance programs.

This report highlights how the unity of command and effort was strained because no single U.S. executive branch department or military service had full ownership of key components of the mission, responsibility for assessing progress toward meeting U.S. strategic objectives, or accountability for vetting and deploying experts. Within the NATO-led coalition, the United States implemented a patchwork of SSA activities and programs involving dozens of U.S. government entities and international partner nations.


Click here for the full report (210 PDF pages), on the SIGAR website.

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