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.