Disjointed Ways, Disunified Means: Learning from America's Struggle to Build an Afghan Nation

  • May 01, 2012
  • COL Lewis G Irwin

Remarkably ambitious in its audacity and scope, NATO’s irregular warfare and nation-building mission in Afghanistan has struggled to meet its nonmilitary objectives by most tangible measures. Put directly, the Alliance and its partners have fallen short of achieving the results needed to create a stable, secure, democratic, and self-sustaining Afghan nation, a particularly daunting proposition given Afghanistan’s history and culture, the region’s contemporary circumstances, and the fact that no such country has existed there before. Furthermore, given the central nature of U.S. contributions to this NATO mission, these shortfalls also serve as an indicator of a serious American problem as well. Specifically, inconsistencies and a lack of coherence in the U.S. Government’s strategic planning processes and products, as well as fundamental flaws in the U.S. Government’s structures and systems for coordinating and integrating the efforts of its various agencies, are largely responsible for this adverse and dangerous situation. This book explores these strategic and interagency shortfalls, while proposing potential reforms that would enable the United States to achieve the strategic coherence and genuine unity of effort that will be needed in an era of constrained resources and emerging new threats.