Strengthening strategic culture in Afghan defence leadership

  • 15 Oct. 2018 - 19 Oct. 2018
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  • Last updated: 26 Oct. 2018 15:25

An Afghan Executive Senior Leader Seminar (ESLS) took place in Belgium from 15 to 19 October, 2018 at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) and NATO Headquarters. The seminar was part of NATO’s Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) with Afghanistan.

Senior officials representing the Office of the President and other Afghan national defence and security departments and ministries discussed strategic and leadership concepts, theory and practice relevant to the complex environment in Afghanistan. Participants also examined ways to enhance strategic thinking, culture, and practice among serving and emerging leaders within the Afghan national defence and security community, as well as ways to foster professional relationships and networking between leaders. They also looked at how to develop more synergies among key security stakeholders and in particular how to strengthen intellectual interoperability between NATO and Afghanistan. 

NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy James Appathurai opened the event. Frédérique Jacquemin, Senior Programme Manager in NATO’s Political Affairs and Security Policy Division, Harry Tomlin, Professor of Strategic Art Programme at the United States Army War College and Colonel Stan Anton from the National Defence University Carol I in Bucharest led the seminar.

Long-term commitment

The highly regarded ESLS aims to enhance a baseline strategic culture within the senior leadership of the main Afghan stakeholders in the field of defence and security. These efforts have now culminated in the proven capacity of the Marshal Fahim National Defence University (MFNDU) to shape and practice such courses in Afghanistan and by Afghan academics. Its current success is the result of senior strategic leader involvement, patience and long-term commitment since the first DEEP Afghanistan seminar in 2010.

“National Security is a team sport.  If leaders and advisors in democratic societies want to think and act strategically, efficiently, and effectively in the complex security environment, then it is imperative that they understand and integrate all instruments of national power and all instrumentalities of government in a comprehensive manner,” said Professor Tomlin.

More than 100 Afghan academics and leaders have already participated in ESLS seminars and workshops. 

In the framework of the NATO-Afghanistan Enduring Partnership, NATO is building consensus both in- and outside the Afghan Government. Our focus points In the short-term concern operational missions that improve the current conditions in the field and In the long-term it will transform into a strengthened partnership between NATO and Afghanistan,” said Marc Di Paolo, Head of Operations and Missions (Afghanistan and Iraq) in NATO”s Operations Division.

DEEP enhances the ability of participants and their respective services to plan strategically, coordinate across ministries in order to improve security and stability and further develop the culture of strategic thinking. This analysis was confirmed by the Marshal Fahim National Defense University and all Afghan ministries involved during the annual review conducted in February 2018 at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

When taking into account the step-by-step process of strengthening security sectors in bilateral and multilateral environments, it is of the utmost importance to have shared goals, speak a common language, to listen, have patience, share information and to exercise leadership,” said Eva Shinagel, Deputy Director Defense Plans at the United States Mission to NATO.

DEEPs are tailored programmes through which the Alliance advises partners on how to build, develop and reform educational institutions in the security, defence and military domain. Projects are currently running in 12 countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹, Tunisia and Ukraine.

  1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.