Post-Conflict State Building

Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Report to the United States Congress


Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations, January 1, 2018 – March 31, 2018.

Operation Freedom’s Sentinel Report to Congress is issued according to five Strategic Oversight Areas: Security; Governance and Civil Society; Humanitarian Development; Stabilization; Support. The central issues raised in the Executive Summary is as follows.

Operation Freedom’s Sentinel Report to Congress is issued according to five Strategic Oversight Areas: Security; Governance and Civil Society; Humanitarian Development; Stabilization; Support. The central issues raised in the Executive Summary are as follows.

Population Security

  • The central effort remains stabilizing Kabul, amidst increased terror attacks.
  • Minimal progress in population security – targeting an increased percentage of Afghanis living under government influence.

Pressure on the Taliban

  • The arrival of new US Military Training Force to expand the Resolute Support train, advise, and assist mission.
    • The hope is that training will allow the National Defense Forces to carry out more simultaneous operations against the Taliban. Improvement is difficult to quantify.
  • Afghan Force levels continue to decline.
    • Concerns about recruiting, retention, casualty rates and therefore overall effectiveness of the ANDSF.
  • Trilateral U.S. pressure on the Taliban:
    • Military, Diplomatic (Pakistan eliminating safehavens), social pressures (legitimate elections). No publically available evidence indicates any of these mechanisms have had a significant impact. Suggestions of negotiation and reconciliation have not led to any indication of change in the Taliban position.
  • Key Challenges:
    • Managing increased violence and civilian casualty in “stable” areas
    • Difficulties for the ANDSF holding territory seized from the Taliban

Pursuing Peace

  • A Taliban open letter to the American people calls for change to US policy toward Afghanistan to pursue peace talks.
    • Taliban rejection of Afghan government as illegitimate.
    • Peace talks conditional on US removing troops and negotiating directly with the Taliban.
  • US refuses to take lead and supports an Afghan-led process.
  • The international community supports reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government
    • President Ghani made an unconditional offer for peace talks
    • No framework for reconciliatory processes or discussions exist.


How Wars End

Professor Damien Kingsbury and Richard Iron CMG OBE, Australian Institute of International Affairs

The authors explore five principles to help identify the opportunities to invest in successful peace-making.

  1. The conditions have to be right for a war to end – these conditions can be cultivated, by improving the benefits of peace or increasing the costs of ongoing conflict to a belligerent. Examples cited: Dayton Agreement & Good Friday Agreement (1995)
  2. Independent and trusted mediation – impartial mediators with sufficient authority to command respect or compel obedience. Example: 2005 Helsinki Aceh Peace Agreement
  3. Meaningful negotiation between the rightpeople – Meaningful requires consideration of the causes and drivers of the conflict; the right people are those that have control over belligerent forces. Examples: 1999 Lomé Peace Agreement – RUF negotiating party lost control of military; Cf. Adams and McGuiness who retained power over the whole IRA for the Good Friday Agreement.
  4. Transitions to peace must be mapped and agreed; successful peace is built, not imposed – this requires disarmament, demobilization, reintegration as well as income and self-respect for ex-combatants.
  5. The international community can play an important, or a complicating, role – by persuading or coercing combatants through systems of reward / punishment, or guarantees such as peace-keepers and monitors.

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