Much of the current debate among scholars and practitioners surrounding the growing Afghan crisis has centered on international policy and strategy. Before the ink was dry on the London Compact and the Afghan National Development Strategy, many observers were calling for course adjustments and policy reviews. Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann, in this first edition of CIGI’s Afghanistan Papers series, acknowledges the flaws in the current strategies for Afghanistan’s transition but calls for a greater focus on implementation. More attention must be dedicated to practical implementation issues such as stakeholder coordination and aid delivery structures. Changes in policy and strategy alone cannot subdue an insurgency or jumpstart a flagging state-building process; this will take a renewed focus on the authorities, practices and resources needed to produce substantive impacts on the ground. In surveying a broad range of critical issues from the development of the Afghan national security forces to good governance promotion, Neumann offers insights on how to improve policy implementation in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Papers are essays authored by prominent academics, policy makers, practitioners and informed observers that seek to challenge existing ideas, contribute to ongoing debates and influence international policy on issues related to Afghanistan’s transition. A forward-looking series, the papers combine analysis of current problems and challenges with explorations of future issues and threats.