A lack of strategic direction and political agreement in security sector reform (SSR) in Afghanistan is an ongoing struggle. This issue paper focuses on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, in addition to police and army reform. Through two case studies, the paper considers the weaknesses of an SSR process driven by operational activities without a clear overall strategy. The Office of the National Security Council in the Afghan government, and its role in the lack of strategic direction in SSR, is examined. The paper concludes with recommendations for how future interventions can avoid such problems, including institutionalizing an international lead for SSR processes.

Part of Series

Authored by prominent practitioners in the field, policy makers, academics and informed observers, the SSR Issue Papers series combines analysis of current problems and challenges, and examines thematic and geographic topics relating to the most pressing SSR issues.
  • Christian Dennys is a researcher at the UK Defence Academy / Cranfield University on stabilization in Nepal and Afghanistan. He has worked in Afghanistan for much of the last seven years, after completing his first degree in Arabic and Persian. Since his first foray into Afghanistan, researching the impact of the DDR program in 2004-05, he has continued to research the functions, structures and support mechanisms of a range of armed groups in Afghanistan. 

  • Tom Hamilton-Baillie is a member of the Centre for Security Sector Management in the Department of Management and Security at the Cranfield University campus in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom.