SIGAR Report: “Divided Responsibility”

SIGAR report on Afghanistan Divided Responsibility June 2019

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has published a new report on Afghanistan – with a focus on security sector assistance efforts. This 210-page report, published on June 14, 2019, is entitled Divided Responsibility: Lessons From U.S. Security Sector Assistance Efforts in Afghanistan.

The report  examines the various security sector assistance activities and programs undertaken by dozens of U.S. entities and international partners to develop the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), Ministry of Defense (MOD), and Ministry of Interior (MOI) since 2001. The report looks critically at five core SSA efforts: field advising, ministerial-level advising, equipping the force, U.S.-based training, and working as part of a NATO coalition.

The report describes how advisor and staff personnel were selected, trained, and assigned to fulfill these key functions. It also examines the consequences associated with the US and NATO approach to SSA in Afghanistan, such as not assigning organizations responsibility for key functions; implementing a command and control relationship that did not consistently link ministerial and tactical advising efforts; not having a comprehensive, enduring plan to guide all efforts; and relying on a NATO command that strained unity of effort and hindered the standardization of SSA activities.

Chapter 1: “Introduction”. Provides an overview for policy makers, explains what Security Sector Assistance is, and provides information on SSA’s role in U.S. history.

Chapter 2: “Field Advising”. Contains information and descriptions of the early Embedded Training Teams (ETTs), augmented Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), SFATs, SFAATs, SFABs (the early ones), and air advising.

Chapter 3: “Ministerial Advising”. Explains the role of the ministerial-level advisor, selection and training for advisors, and Afghan input to the advising and training process.

Chapter 4 : “Equipping the Force”. Covers the nuts and bolts (and processes) of providing equipment to the ANDSF.

Chapter 5: “U.S.-Based Training”. Explores the different programs used to train Afghan military personnel. This includes a section on the high rate of ‘AWOLs’ that disappear from U.S. training bases while attending training schools and courses.

Chapter 6: “By, With, and Through NATO”. Provides information of how NATO became involved with Afghanistan, the policies and processes that created challenges in establishing unity of effort, how the U.S. enabled and optimized NATO involvement in Afghanistan, and more.

Chapter 7: “Conclusions”. Each chapter ends with “Key Findings” and “Recommendations”. This chapter provides a summary of “Lessons” and “Recommendations”.

Chapter 8: “Appendices and Endnotes”. This extensive section provides the resources used to research Divided Responsibility: Lessons From U.S. Security Sector Assistance Efforts in Afghanistan . It provides an explanation of the methodology for writing the report and a listing of acronyms.

This document is a good read for those interested in security sector reform, security force assistance, or the effort to organize, equip, and train the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

To read or download (PDF) Divided Responsibility: Lessons From U.S. Security Sector Assistance Efforts in Afghanistan visit the website of SIGAR:


Photo: From the cover of the SIGAR report.

About John Friberg 201 Articles
John Friberg is the Editor and Publisher of SOF News. He is a retired Command Chief Warrant Officer (CW5 180A) with 40 years service in the U.S. Army Special Forces with active duty and reserve components.