The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) recently released a report titled, “What We Need to Learn: Lessons from Twenty Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction.” This report incorporates 13 years of oversight work, more than 760 interviews, and a review of thousands of government documents to produce a comprehensive retrospective analysis of lessons learned.
SIGAR devotes a chapter to each of these critical lessons they identified:
- Strategy: The U.S. government continuously struggled to developand implement a coherent strategy for what it hoped to achieve.
- Timelines: The U.S. government consistently underestimated the amountof time required to rebuild Afghanistan, and created unrealistic timelinesand expectations that prioritized spending quickly. These choices increasedcorruption and reduced the effectiveness of programs.
- Sustainability: Many of the institutions and infrastructure projects the United States built were not sustainable.
- Personnel: Counterproductive civilian and military personnel policiesand practices thwarted the effort.
- Insecurity: Persistent insecurity severely undermined reconstruction efforts.
- Context: The U.S. government did not understand the Afghan context and therefore failed to tailor its efforts accordingly.
- Monitoring and Evaluation: U.S. government agencies rarely conducted sufficient monitoring and evaluation to understand the impact of their efforts.
The interactive version of this SIGAR report is available here.
For more information related to this piece, visit the HSDL to check out additional reports by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and general reports on the topic of Afghanistan.
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