4 ON THE GROUND
Making it work
128. Many witnesses told us that the Comprehensive
Approach was working better on the ground than in London.
Professor Farrell said:
I think you need to distinguish between where
we are in Whitehall and the departments versus in the field. There
has been tremendous progress in the field and in terms of planning
129. The joint memorandum from the three Departments
described how the Comprehensive Approach in the Democratic Republic
of Congo had been used successfully.
] the DFID, MoD and FCO team recognises
no border between development, military and political issues.
They have pushed the boundaries for joined up work not just by
having joint policy teams but also creating joint management functions
and a joint communications unit to handle press and public affairs.
The UK earned a reputation for speaking with one voice and linking
political pressure and programmes to influence partners towards
a positive result. The departments continue to work together to
deliver our contribution to international efforts to secure a
lasting peace in DRC by pooling analysis, ideas and problem solving
and shifting funding flexibly to take advantage of opportunities.
Such collaboration does not end with the cross-Whitehall conflict
It cited as an example of how the Departments work
closely together on a project to rebuild a vital bridge in the
eastern part of that country.
Although funded through DFID's infrastructure
programme, much of the expertise needed to deliver the project
is being sourced through MoD's links with the military engineer
community. This comprehensive approach has contributed to providing
the leverage needed to encourage the UN locally to provide the
construction manpower. Overall, this means the project can be
delivered quicker, more effectively and at less cost than would
otherwise be the case.
130. Professors Farrell and Chalmers described the
difficulties in the use of the Comprehensive Approach in Afghanistan
together with some of the improvements which had been made. In
particular, they commented on the need for good planning but also
on the difficulties posed, especially in making the plan stick.
Professor Farrell said:
The Joint Plan for Helmand was led by the PCRU
[Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit, now called the Stabilisation
Unit] involved in collaboration with PJHQ. It was highly comprehensive
in its generation. It had a flaw in terms of connecting what were
those aspirations at an operational level generated in Britain
with what was happening on the ground. The Helmand Road Map was
designed to address that. The primary authors were despatched
by the Stabilisation Unit into Lashkar Gar and they worked with
52 Brigade and they took 52 Brigade's campaign plan, its operational
design, and built around that a reformed plan for Helmand. Both
of those are great examples of comprehensive planning actually.
I think both at an operational and tactical level as well we are
seeing much more of a comprehensive approach.
131. In their joint memorandum, the three Departments
also cited improvements in the co-ordination in Helmand since
the establishment of the Civil-Military Mission.
One good example of the Comprehensive Approach
being used in practice is the UK Civil-Military Mission Helmand
(CMMH) in Lashkar Gah. The CMMH is the integrated structure that
brought together the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and
the military led Task Force Helmand (TFH), and it co-ordinates
the efforts of DFID, FCO, MoD, and other international partners,
including the US, Denmark and Estonia, in a comprehensive approach
to stabilisation including a seamless package of reconstruction
assistance for Helmand province. Staff are also based in five
Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) across Helmand Province in Gereshk,
Musa Qala, Garmsir, Nad-e-Ali and Sangin.
It provides a mechanism, through joint teams,
for tracking and driving implementation across the thematic and
geographical strands of the Helmand Roadmap.
132. We asked the PUSs if the success of the PRTs
was too dependent on the particular individual leading it. In
essence, they acknowledged the importance of good leadership but
said that leaders were not the whole story.
Dr Shafik: There is no doubt that
leadership matters and I think we have seen when we have had good
leaders of PRTs that they are more effective. Having a cadre of
people who are experienced in these situations is quite important.
] But leaders cannot be the whole story and so the work
that we are doing through the Stabilisation Unit and building
up the civilian cadre and having other people in the PRT who have
experience working in this comprehensive inter-departmental way
will reinforce the fact when you do not have the strongest leadership.
So I think you have to work on both frontsthe leaders as
well as the worker bees that are also need to be embedded with
a comprehensive spirit.
Sir Bill Jeffrey: I think the nature
of this beast is such that the person you put in charge of it
is going to have a profound impact on how successful this is.
] The way to make it stronger and more consistently effective
is by [
] growing a group of staff who have done quite a
bit of this sort of thing.
Sir Peter Ricketts: Leadership
is always important in these operations [
] But we also need
to have systems in place so that it is not totally reliant on
any one individual and there is a strong enough system so that
cooperation will work in addition to there being a good leader
at the top. I think it is very important and a very powerful signal
that the next civilian leader of our operation in Helmand will
be a DFID member of staff.
133. In recognising the importance of Afghanistan
to the UK, DFID has redistributed its aid funding for development,
reconstruction and stabilisation so that Afghanistan receives
a greater proportion than other poor countries and a higher proportion
of that aid is spent in Helmand. Dr Shafik explained the current
distribution of aid money in Afghanistan.
If DFID was treating Afghanistan like a normal
country and we try to allocate aid on an objective criteria based
on how much poverty there is in that country and how good its
policies are and how effectively we think the money could be used
we would probably allocate it one-tenth of what we give it now.
So that gives you a sense of proportion; we are giving it ten
times more than we normally would if we were treating it as an
ordinary country. If you look at Helmand, Helmand actually only
constitutes about five per cent of the population of Afghanistan.
We are giving it about a quarter of our aid programme, so again
disproportionately putting more effort in given the priority that
134. As discussed in Part 2 of this Report, in the
early days in Iraq and Afghanistan it was difficult for the FCO
and DFID to identify people willing and able to deploy to theatre.
In addition, it was difficult to find civilians with the relevant
skills to deploy to carry out the reconstruction work in all fields.
This has improved with good work being done by DFID and the Stabilisation
Unit to provide more civilian staff on the ground in Afghanistan.
Dr Shafik said that staff were working better together:
] there has been a steady improvement
in terms of the level of interaction with DFID staff actively
engaging with the military in terms of pre-deployment and in terms
of training programmes. [
] I think that if you see the operations
in action in Helmand, for example, or in Basra most people would
say that they are some of the best examples of civilian-military
collaboration anywhere in the world.
135. One area of concern is that military and civilian
personnel serve different length tours. The majority of the Armed
Forces do six months with at most one break (called rest and recuperation)
while civilians stay for at least a year but do six weeks in theatre
followed by two weeks off. This difference has led to some difficulties
in co-ordination and the continuity of knowledge within the military.
In order to help address the difficulties in co-ordination, the
MoD has recently extended the lengths of some key officer postings
to one year but combat tours remain at six months.
136. Professor Farrell told us that some UK commanders
felt that they did not have enough authority or access to funds
to carry out development work, unlike their American counterparts
who had access to Commanders Emergency Response Pool (CERP) funding.
The American military were thus better resourced and empowered
to carry out development work. We asked the PUSs if there was
any conflict in the way the Americans and the British operated.
Dr Shafik said that they did operate differently:
] the Afghan government's budget this
year is about $4 billion. The CERP programme, the US military
walking-around money, as they call it, is about $750 million.
It is equivalent to all the revenues raised by the Afghan state.
There is something wrong with that picture, and our view is that
unless the Afghan government is seen to be delivering security
and basic services to its own population it will never be seen
as legitimate and credible and able to have a writ over their
country, and so ultimately we feel very strongly that the majority
of our aid money should go through the Afghan government and that
is a difference in approach from the American approach. We are
actively discussing this with the Americans and the new administration
is more sympathetic to this approach because they realise that
in the end your only exit strategy is for the Afghans to do it
themselves, and so unless we get them used to managing money and
raising their own revenue and spending it responsibly you will
be there forever.
137. Dr Shafik disagreed with the approach taken
by the Americans calling it "misguided" and saying that
its effect was "transient" and not sustainable unless
followed by longer term development.
138. We asked Brigadier Messenger, a former commander
in Helmand, whether the Forces in Helmand had sufficient resources.
He said that he had limited sums devolved to him to spend and
that bigger projects were funded from the Stabilisation Aid Fund
devolved to staff in Kabul and Lashkar Gah.
He had not looked with any envy on the CERP funds available to
American commanders and, indeed, thought that cash would not necessarily
avoid the need for combat.
I do not buy into this "go in with cash
and you might avoid the need for combat" because to my mind
to go in with cash, there is no guarantee that that cash will
go to the right place. In some ways, having that approach rewards
instability and may even be counterproductive in certain areas.
139. We asked about positive outcomes on the ground
from the use of the Comprehensive Approach. Dr Shafik said
that the wheat programme in Helmand had been successful.
In Afghanistan the latest reporting is that they
have had the best wheat harvest this century in Afghanistan and
they have produced 6.3 million tonnes, making Afghanistan self-sufficient
in wheat for the first time ever. And poppy seems to be going
down. Over the last year we have had a programme with Governor
Mangal to distribute wheat seed in Helmand. [
] I think that
that is an example where that is a programme that we develop with
the Governor in collaboration with the FCO working closely with
the Governor and his advisers and the military were clearly key
for providing the security envelope for that distribution programme
and we could not have done that unless that had been a collaborative
140. There has been a significant increase in the
cultivation of wheat and a fall in that of opium. The FCO has
funded seven annual reports into the changing pattern of crop
cultivation in Afghanistan. The latest report, published in May
2009, concluded that, although opium production had decreased,
improvements in security were needed to prevent a return to the
level of opium production in less propitious times.
Across much of Afghanistan opium poppy is being
replaced by wheat in the 2008-09 growing seasona pattern
of crop substitution that was already evident in some parts of
the country the previous year. This is largely as a result of
the fall in opium prices and the sharp rise in wheat prices over
the last eighteen months. [
Unfortunately, the conditions for enduring reductions
in cultivation are currently not in place in many areas of Afghanistan,
and the potential for production to return to many of the areas
declared poppy free in 2007 and 2008 is very real. It remains
to be seen how those in both the development and drug control
communities might respond to the threat and the reality of resurgence
in cultivation in the coming years. It is certainly hoped that
the response will be one that focuses on delivering durable reductions
in opium production through improvements in social protection,
basic security, incomes and employment rather than simply delivering
short term reduction in the area under cultivation through measures
that might expose rural communities to greater risk and endanger
their continued support for the Afghan state.
141. Dr Shafik also pointed to the success of the
Comprehensive Approach in Sierra Leone.
There we had a joint approach across HMG to transform
the security sector, both the Ministry of Defence, the Army and
the police and the Office of National Security, and that was a
joint programme run by the Ministry of Defence through the IMAT
Programme; it was led by the British High Commissioner in Sierra
Leone who oversaw this team effort. I think it is no accident
that as a result of that strengthening of the security sector
in Sierra Leone at the last elections there was an orderly transition
of power, the Opposition Party won and they took office in a peaceful
manner and there were no security incidents as a result. I think
that is another good example where the collaborative approach
across defence, diplomacy and development resulted in an extraordinary
transition in less than a decade in one of the poorest countries
in the world.
142. We note the positive examples of the use
of the Comprehensive Approach in the Democratic Republic of Congo
and Sierra Leone, and recently, in Afghanistan. These success
stories should be brought together to inform the development of
a strengthened Comprehensive Approach doctrine. Positive outcomes
in Afghanistan should also be used to inform the public debate
about the success of operations there.
Working with NGOs
143. NGOs are involved in almost all situations where
the Comprehensive Approach is likely to be used and as such departments
need to promote good working relationships with them. In the joint
memorandum, the Departments told us that they met regularly with
international and non-governmental organisations, both in-country
and in London, to ensure these were aware of the UK's objectives
in particular countries or regions and those of the international
These meetings are valuable in exchanging perceptions,
de-conflicting initiatives and, where appropriate, identifying
common objectives and how best to coordinate in their achievement.
The NGO-Military Contact Group also meets regularly to cover generic
issues, including enhancing mutual understanding and, where appropriate,
better ways of working together and the development of a more
comprehensive approach to issues.
144. As part of this inquiry, we asked the National
Audit Office to undertake research on our behalf to identify the
views of NGOs about the Comprehensive Approach. Nine NGOs and
one body representing NGOs working in areas such as Afghanistan
and Iraq participated. Many NGOs told us that they believe that
working too closely with the military and others adversely impacted
on the effectiveness of humanitarian aid and, in some cases, the
safety of their staff. They were willing to co-operate with the
Government on the planning and co-ordination of efforts, particularly
in the UK, but were unwilling to work collectively alongside the
military and DFID.
145. Many of the NGOs identified a number of potential
or actual benefits of the Comprehensive Approach. These included
the potential to bridge the gap between insecurity and security
and thus create a stable environment in which humanitarian and
development activities could be conducted. They also thought that
the Comprehensive Approach could address both the initial stabilisation
of a country and the subsequent risk of the country slipping back
into conflict. They cited the following additional benefits:
- co-ordinated activity across
defence (military), development and diplomatic arms of government;
- coherence of government policy as an obvious
and important objective; and
- the creation of conditions for a more inclusive
consultation of key stakeholders in a way that could make an intervention
more responsive to the needs of the civilians on the ground.
146. The NGOs, however, did express concerns about
the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Approach when applied to
a country in conflict. In particular, they were concerned that
the Comprehensive Approach impacted on the effectiveness of humanitarian
and development aid in general, and the NGOs' ability to undertake
their role safely and effectively. In particular, NGOs said that
the Comprehensive Approach could:
- distort aid flows, with resources
being moved away from meeting the greatest humanitarian and development
needs towards stabilisation activities;
- reduce the effectiveness of aid spending in that
quick impact projects do not address key development challenges
and, therefore, are poor value for money;
- blur the lines between military and humanitarian
organisations. This blurring can impact on the local population's
perceptions of the neutrality, impartiality and independence of
NGOs, and thus on the NGOs' ability to operate effectively and
safely in countries where there is a conflict. Consequently, NGO
access to vulnerable and /or remote populations in conflict situations
can be hindered;
- increase the militarisation of civilian settings
or facilities, such as hospitals, in the host country. For example,
the presence of armed private security providers in Afghan hospitals
(to protect DFID staff) can turn the facilities, and the Afghan
users of those facilities, into targets for belligerents; and
- result in governments, including their military
organisations, undertaking a greater role in the provision of
humanitarian assistance. This increased role could be at odds
with international guidelines and agreements (for example, authored
by the UN) on the provision of humanitarian assistance in general,
and the relationship between humanitarian and military actors
in particular. Amongst other things, the guidelines and agreements
seek to ensure that differences between humanitarian and military
actors are recognised and respected and there is space for humanitarian
organisations to operate safely and effectively.
147. Both Professors Chalmers and Farrell agreed
with much of what the NGOs said.
Professor Chalmers: There is clearly
a tension between those who would argue that they should be integrated
into a more general approach and the NGOs themselves who would
say that they are quite prepared to co-ordinate but they are independent
actors with different objectives and indeed sometimes have problems
when the actions of the military appear to increase their insecurity
Professor Farrell: I would have
thought the problem there is that a lot of DFID's funding goes
into the NGO community to then provide the services that are required.
What is very important practically for all the NGOs, with only
a few exceptions, is the appearance that they are independent,
that they are not connected to some kind of national form of military
] It is fundamental to their ability to operate
because they have to be seen as neutral because they have to go
to dangerous areas and work with people. If that impartiality
was lost then their physical security would be threatened and
also their ability to work with the locals.
148. We asked DFID how difficult it was to work with
NGOs. Dr Shafik stressed that her department was sensitive to
the concerns of NGOs, and that they operated under internationally
agreed guidelines when working with NGOs.
Many NGOs, particularly the humanitarian ones,
place a very high premium on their independence and neutrality,
and it is the key to their own security. We consult with them
regularly. They have said quite clearly that it is very important
for them not to be seen as agents of the military because their
security is then jeopardised. They provide a vital service and
the more NGOs we have operating in places like Afghanistan the
better off we are, and in order to work with them we have [
developed guidelines for engagement with NGOs in armed conflict
for Afghanistan and the ISAF troops have signed up to those guidelines.
149. We asked witnesses from NATO and the European
Union how they managed their relationships with NGOs.
Mr Howard (NATO): Certainly in
my time in NATO we have had a number of engagements with NGOs
on very specific issues, for example to do with civilian casualties
in Afghanistan. I think we are now broadening that into a much
more systematic relationship with NGOs to talk about the overall
plan or the overall sense of progress inside Afghanistan, but
I know that actually on the ground in Afghanistan there is pretty
regular contact with commanders and NGOs, well recognising that
some NGOs will always have difficulties about working with the
military, for their own reasons will always be very keen on the
concept of humanitarian space and, therefore, the need to keep
a certain amount at arms' length. Personally, I think there is
quite a long way for us to go in this area, but we are making
progress, particularly on the ground.
Mr Cooper (EU): I think for us
the place where we do this best at the moment is in Kosovo, where
we have had quite a long preparation time. We have created a kind
of forum of NGOs and consulted them, and we work in partnership
with the main NGOs on the ground in Kosovo, and that works very
Mr Williams (NATO): [
UN hosts a forum of NGOs at which ISAF [International Security
Assistance Force] is present and in which some form of co-operation
is developed. One issue that has irritated NGOs has been the fact
that some ISAF nations have driven around in white vehicles, for
example, therefore confusing the status of ISAF with the status
of NGOs, but we came to a very amicable solution to that where
ISAF has issued instructions for the repainting of its vehicles.
So there are mechanisms and fora for working things out. [
So I would not say there was a huge gap between NGOs, but their
purposes and modus operandi are slightly different. They
need a certain space and distance from ISAF in order to function,
in order to be recognised for their specificity. Sometimes on
the ISAF side there is a sense of obligation towards the NGOs.
If they get in trouble it will be ISAF, often, that may be required
to help them out. I think the relationship is balanced, as long
as everyone understands what the relationship is. I think the
biggest problem the NGOs have is that the military turn-over in
ISAF is so huge that, as they develop relationships with particular
points of contact, then that point of contact goes and the continuity
goes and the ability to build up a fruitful, stable, more co-operative
relationship is hampered, not by ideological reasons often, but
just by practical reasons of change-over in ISAF staff. NGOs tend
to be much more present for a greater period and often have more
experience than some of the ISAF officers that they are dealing
150. Lord Malloch-Brown told us that disassociating
themselves from the military did not necessarily make aid workers
[There is] this argument by NGOs and UN humanitarian
agencies, which they make as strongly inside the UN as to you
as a Committee, which is for this need for humanitarian separation
and space, I am sympathetic to it, although in truth I do not
think it is altogether practical, because I am not sure that people
who want to kill a foreigner in these situations stop first to
ask, "Are you from DFID or Oxfam?" Also, the indiscriminate
nature of the weaponry now being used, these IEDs kill everybody
who is in a vehicle going across that area. While I respect the
argument, I do not think it would give them as much protection
as they assert. They would not be treated as neutral combatants,
very sadly. Further proof of that is that even the Red Cross and
the International Committee of the Red Cross, which are the most
neutral, if you like, and most humanitarian, have in recent years
come under attack and lost lives.
151. Further tensions that need to be recognised
may result from the role NGOs play in civilian society in support
of regional and local government. This may be most evident in
Afghanistan where the ISAF mission has a clear role to support
the national Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
152. The MoD, DFID and the FCO recognise the importance
of the independence of NGOs and that care should be exercised
when coordinating activities with them. Nonetheless, NGOs are
an important component in the use of the Comprehensive Approach
and have much to offer, not only in terms of humanitarian aid
work but in their knowledge and understanding of the region and
the needs of local people. The three Departments should expand
their work with NGOs to identify better ways to draw on their
expertise and to ensure that each side is aware of the other's
activities without compromising the safety of aid workers on the
Working with local nationals
153. To make change happen on the ground, it is crucial
to work with the local community and if possible to build on the
structures and systems in place. This work needs to be conducted
at three levels, local, regional and national. It is not straightforward
to identify what local people want. There are many needs in countries
such as Iraq and Afghanistan, with many competing factions and
voices. The local population will have been significantly affected
by the original conflict and the current security situation. It
is important that the capability and confidence of local people
is built up in all fields such as security, governance, law and
order and development. The capacity to undertake reconstruction
needs to be developed in local authorities.
154. Professor Chalmers believed that it was central
to work closely with local nationals and to build up their local
capacity in reconstruction, security, governance and law and order
as the UK is not in the business of occupation and colonisation.
He also said that the UK had a good record of channelling more
aid through the Afghan state than other allies.
155. At the start of the conflict in Afghanistan
there was a limited understanding of the needs and expectations
of the Afghan people and insufficient knowledge of the recent
history and culture of Afghanistan. In an address to the International
Institute for Strategic Studies on 1 October 2009, General McChrystal
stressed how complex and how serious the situation in Afghanistan
was. He pointed out areas of tremendous progress such as the construction
of roads, the provision of clean water, access to healthcare and
education but he also reported that many villagers live in fear.
He said that "We must redefine the fight. The objective is
the will of the Afghan people. We must protect the Afghan people
from all threats: from the enemy; and from our own actions."
The changed approach by the USA recognised that reconstruction
was not a secondary activity and that civilian casualties and
collateral damage had a significant impact on the ability to do
reconstruction and stabilisation work, and, ultimately, to the
withdrawal of allied forces from Afghanistan.
156. An important component of working with local
people is the ability to communicate directly with them in their
own language. We asked the FCO, DFID and the MoD about the number
of personnel who were fluent in the various languages spoken in
Afghanistan. It was apparent that there had been very few people
who spoke Pashtu in the early years of reconstruction work in
Shafik told us that DFID relied "very heavily on local staff;
we have more Afghan staff working for us in Afghanistan than we
have UK staff, so a lot of the language issues are addressed by
the fact that much of our work is actually being done by Afghans".
157. The FCO told us that "until 2002 we did
not have an embassy in Kabul at all and so the need for Pashtu
speakers lapsed and our cadre dissipated; so we now need to re-establish
it". We asked
the three Departments for details of the numbers of personnel
speaking the various languages. The results are summarised in
the table below.
Table: Language skills1
in the MoD, DFID, the FCO and the Stabilisation Unit
| ||Pashto is primarily spoken in the east, south and southwest of Afghanistan
||Dari, a Persian language, is most commonly spoken in the northern and western part of Afghanistan and Kabul
||Another commonly spoken Persian language
|DFID || ||7 UK based staff in Kabul are learning Dari2
|Stabilisation Unit ||18 speakers on the database
||21 speakers on the database ||
|The FCO ||5 members of staff trained and a further 4 in training
||23 staff trained and 2 in training ||36 staff trained and 7 in training
|The Armed Forces and the MoD3 ||In 2005-06, 34 personnel attended courses in Pashto at intermediate or higher level
||In 2005-06, 39 attended courses in Farsi/Dari at intermediate or higher
| ||In 2006-07, 38 at intermediate or higher and 108 at basic
||In 2006-07, 52 at intermediate or higher and 8 at basic
| ||In 2007-08, 81 at intermediate or higher and 124 at basic
||In 2007-08, 27 at intermediate or higher and 3 at basic
| ||In 2008-09, 59 at intermediate or higher and 116 at basic
||In 2008-09, 37 at intermediate or higher and 1 at basic
Source: Memorandum from the MoD, DFID and the FCO
1.As at 9 September 2009
2.DFID has access to local staff who speak Pashto and Dari in
Kabul and Lashkar Gar
3. In addition to the courses above , there is a Basic Patrol
Course in Pashto for 250 personnel per brigade500 annually
158. We consider the ability to communicate directly with local
nationals to be important. We recognise that there has been additional
language training for deployment to Afghanistan since 2003 but
progress, particularly within DFID and the FCO, has been unimpressive.
The three Departments should give the matter higher priority both
in current and future operations.
159. We asked to what extent witnesses thought that
the various institutional players in a comprehensive approach
could work successfully with local nationals. Professors Chalmers
and Farrell recognised working with locals as key to the operation
of the Comprehensive Approach.
Professor Chalmers: The only hope
for success in Afghanistan or Iraq is a situation in which local
people, who have more stake in their security than we do, create
a sustainable process. [
] The key to that success is finding
ways of helping to build a state. Some of the interesting dilemmas,
for example in aid, and I think the UK has a relatively good record
of channelling more money through the state, is in helping build
up fragile local capacity rather than always going for an easy
option of getting contractors and NGOs in to build things on behalf
of Western donors but not actually connecting with local governments.
160. Professor Farrell also told us that there was
often a tension between what was needed by the Afghan government
in terms of large scale projects and what was needed by the local
population. He explained that one Brigade in Helmand had refined
an American tool called the Tactical Conflict Assessment Framework
for identifying local needs and had trialled it in Lashkar Gar
successfully. The basis for the tool is engagement with local
nations and key leaders in the area to ask what kind of services
they required and who should deliver them. The methodology is
not perfect and was subsequently dropped by the military.
161. There are inevitable tensions between local
and national priorities, in particular, when setting up the rule
of law and governance and the military. We asked Professor Chalmers
whether these tensions could be resolved or had to be worked through.
I think it is the latter. It is certainly not
resolved. We are in a very difficult situation in which we are
inevitably major players and ISAF more generally are major players
in Afghan politics, but Afghan politics, as in any country but
even more so, is riven with tension and conflict and it is difficult
for us to behave in ways which do not favour one actor over another,
but in particular in Afghanistan there is a real issue and a debate
about the extent of devolution of powers to provincial or sub-provincial
levels. The provincial governors are appointed by the President.
In particular, in the case of Helmand, how far
do you give weight to the views of local actors as distinct from
national Afghan government actors? I do not think there is a simple
answer to that.
162. When asked about how well the international
forces had been able to work with the Afghan people, General McColl
told us that there had been some progress in areas such as health,
education and economic growth but, in other areas such as governance
and counternarcotics, progress had not been satisfactory.
If I take politics for the first example, when
we first arrived there [in 2001-02], there was nothing in the
ministriesno desks, no people, no middle-classthe
politicians were people who had been at war with each other for
the last God knows how many years; there was simply no governance
at all. Since then we have gone through a series of Jirgas and
elections and there is a proper sense of governance, of politics,
although I absolutely take the point that the governance at the
lower level is extremely corrupt and needs a great deal more work,
but there has been political development there. If you go on to
the areas of health, education, economic growth in terms of the
percentage of growth annually since we arrived in 2002, in all
of these areas there has been significant growth, and I think
it needs to be taken within that context. You can hone down on
areas, and security in the south of the country over recent times
is certainly one, counter-narcotics is another where progress
has not been satisfactory, and, indeed, just recently in the south
there has been a significant increase in the number of incidents,
so it is a patchwork, but I think if you are going to get a satisfactory
picture of the work of the Comprehensive Approach you need to
take it over a significant period of time to give yourself a coherent
163. Mr Williams also told us that local people would
not notice the operation of the Comprehensive Approach but rather
Comprehensive means that all the organisations
and players, including to some extent NGOs, are working towards
a common idea of what has to be achieved according to strategies
which, after a number of years, are now in place across a range
of development goals. So the man by the side of the river may
not notice whether NATO, or the EU, or the UN is delivering something,
but the overall effect should be that what is delivered should
increasingly be part of a consistent, coherent strategy which
has been developed by the Afghan Government with the support of
the various international actors.
164. Mr Cooper explained the position from the EU
I am aware of only one part of the picture, but
I know that the European Union aid programmes over the years have
actually been building up an Afghan NGO to do election monitoring.
There will be European monitors out there as well, but the bulk
of the monitoring will actually be done by Afghans, which is the
best way to do it.
165. Mr Mollett explained that Care International
worked closely with local nationals in Afghanistan in order to
make the aid sustainable in the long term.
Certainly within Care we have had some really
interesting experiences in working both with traditional shuras
and then establishing community development committees or councils
in Afghanistan, also partly as an implementing partner of the
National Solidarity Programme. In a way it goes back to the point
I was making in my previous response [
] where I drew the
contrast between private sector contractors that may be hired
to work to deliver a project to meet a short-term objective set
by the military or a political actor at the international level,
or agencies that are trying to work with communities on the basis
of the needs and the interests that they articulate, and that
is the basis on which we work.
166. Polls by the BBC and others reported in 2009
that the opinions of local nationals about their own safety and
their views about foreign forces had worsened in recent years,
particularly in those areas where security was still poor such
as the south of Afghanistan.
However, the most recent poll by the BBC and others highlighted
greater optimism from local Afghan people although many of the
poll's results were not as high as those in 2005 and 2006. Seventy
per cent of those interviewed said they believed that Afghanistan
was going in the right direction compared with 40% a year before.
Seventy-one per cent said they were optimistic about how the situation
would be in 12 months compared with 5% who said it would be worse.
167. The MoD, the FCO and DFID together with the
Stabilisation Unit should provide training and education on the
culture, history and politics of areas where their staff will
be deployed on the Comprehensive Approach. For instance, training
could draw upon the knowledge and expertise of personnel, including
those of other countries and in particular the USA, who have served
in Afghanistan, in some cases on more than one occasion. This
training should be in addition to appropriate language training.
WORKING WITH LOCAL WOMEN
168. In many areas requiring post-conflict reconstruction
and stabilisation, there are specific issues relating to women,
in particular, where there has been a significant period of conflict
or oppression of women. The use of the Comprehensive Approach
must take into account the particular needs of women over and
above those of the rest of the local population.
169. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325,
particularly Article 8(c), calls on all actors negotiating and
implementing peace agreements to adopt a gender perspective ensuring
the respect for the human rights of women and girls, particularly
as they relate to the constitution, the electoral system, the
police and the judiciary. Dr Shafik told us that the UK was one
of the first countries to have a national action plan for implementing
UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 which is led by the
FCO. She also described their approach generally and, more particularly,
in Afghanistan where they had had success in some areas but less
so in getting women involved in the political process and reconciliation.
The Stabilisation Unit includes training on UNSCR
1325 in all of its training programmes as part of pre-deployment,
so before we deploy people we train them and sensitise them to
these issues. We have gender expertise in our civilian database.
We do lesson-learning on working with women in countries in conflict
like Iraq, like Afghanistan, like Sudan, and we share that around.
Clearly, in Afghanistan we have to adapt the way we work. Probably
the biggest impact we have had is getting two million Afghan girls
into schools, although, as you know, that is a struggle because
the Taliban consistently target teachers of girls and have assassinated
dozens of them in the last couple of years. However, we also do
other things. For example, we have a micro finance programme in
Afghanistan which we have been running for many years, the vast
majority of the beneficiaries of which are Afghan women who have
proved to be incredibly creditworthy and repay their loans and
have developed small businesses as a result of that, but clearly
we have adapted that programme by having female loan officers
who go out and collect the payments. We have found ways to work
with women in Afghanistan. We have probably been less successful
at having them participate in the political reconciliation and
political process. They have probably been less visible. We have
been more successful in other countries, like Sudan, where we
supported making sure that women were at the table in the Darfur
peace talks. We had more room to manoeuvre in that context.
170. The FCO told us that it was responsible for
the UK's Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and that it had undertaken
the following activities in Afghanistan:
To encourage the Afghan Government to implement
1325 we are funding various programmesincluding a £500,000
women's empowerment programmeto promote women's equal participation
in governance and to build awareness of women's rights among civil
society and policy makers. It is positive that because of a constitutional
quota, over a quarter of the MPs in the Lower House of the Afghan
Parliament are women.
Across Afghanistan, the UK supports the representation
of women in our justice projects and programmes. For example,
the proportion of female judges at the Criminal Justice Task Force,
which investigates and prosecutes narcotics cases, is far above
the national estimated figure of 3% women in the judiciary.
In Helmand, UK advisers are supporting the development
of justice systems that can provide access for women. UK supported
legal education initiatives are raising awareness of human rights,
including rights and access to justice for women. Advisers with
gender expertise are ensuring that gender issues are an important
element of all our capacity-building work with the justice sector.
The UK programme in Helmand recognises the specific
challenges faced by women working in the justice sector, including
the Afghan National Police and the prison service. For example,
Military Defence Police officers are mentoring female officers
through firearms training and 10 week literacy training has been
delivered to female officers.
The UK has also assisted in developing a provincial
women's group, focusing particularly on the rights of women and
their children. One of the first elements to their work has been
to provide literacy and vocational training to women in Lashkar
Gah prison. Female prisoners there are also accessing legal representation
for the first time, following the UK's support to the Independent
We will continue to lobby the current, and any
future, Afghan government on women's rights issuesas we
did with the Shia Family Law. That law has not come into force
and we welcome President Karzai's announcement that the law will
be changed to bring it in line with the Afghan Constitution; which
guarantees equal rights for women.
171. We asked, in terms of developing and promoting
the Comprehensive Approach, how essential it was to focus on some
of the more entrenched cultural views on the role of women in
civil society in Afghanistan, and whether this was crucial to
achieving peace and reconciliation or a luxury on the way to having
a military, stable and secure region. Mr Teuten replied:
It is neither a luxury nor the single most important
thing. It plays a role. Certainly, the attempts that have been
made in one of the districts that Gordon Messenger mentioned to
involve women in the bottom-up governance arrangements through
the shura offer the potential for contributing significantly to
promoting better governance and greater stability. So efforts
are being made, but it is not the number one priority. But equally,
as I say, it is not a luxury.
172. Mr Howard told us that the implementation of
UNSCR 1325 was high on NATO's agenda.
In addition to that, going beyond Afghan, the
NATO military chain of command have also tried to embed the concepts
of UNSCR 1325 into their planning. I know that my military counterpart,
the Director of the International Military Staff, has been working
very hard on that. [
] On the ground there are various statistics
which are brought out about the number of girls that are going
to school in Afghanistan. I know it is at a much lower level,
but that, I think, is evidence of progress, and the other thing
I would draw attention to was a very specific criticism made by
the international community, including at the NATO summit in Strasbourg,
of President Karzai when there was an attempt to introduce a new
law, the pro-Shia law, which you have probably heard about, and
that has had impact, because the President has said, "Hold
fire. We will not do that." So I am not suggesting that there
is not much more to do, but both the particular issue of UNSCR
1325 and the position of women in Afghanistan and in zones of
conflict more generally, I think, are quite high on NATO's agenda.
Mr Cooper explained from an EU perspective.
I just wanted to say that we have specific directives
on 1325 and 1820 in the European Union. I think there may be a
couple of exceptions, but each of our missions has a human rights
and/or gender adviser. In some cases I find that I get continual
pleas from the heads of the mission: can they have more women
in the mission. For example, we were running the border crossing;
we were monitoring the border crossing at Rafah, between Gaza
and Egypt. It was essential that we had some women officers there
as well to handle the women who were crossing. There are many
cases in the Congo where we are dealing with sexual violence,
in which we need more women than we have at the moment, and they
are vital in what you try to do.
173. DFID emphasised to us how work in Afghanistan
had resulted in significant numbers of girls being allowed to
go to school.
The Department later told us that enrolled pupil numbers in Afghanistan
had grown from one million in 2001 to 6.6 million in 2009, 36%
of whom were girls. No girls had been allowed to go to school
under the Taliban.
174. We endorse the Government's intentions with
regard to the support of women, in line with UNSCR 1325, within
the Comprehensive Approach and expect to see explicit reference
to this in the Comprehensive Approach policy and doctrine that
we call for earlier in this Report.
175. The MoD and the Armed Forces, the FCO and
DFID all recognise that engagement in future conflicts is likely
to require the use of the Comprehensive Approach. It is, therefore
essential that a shared understanding exists across Government
and, in particular, within the MoD, the FCO and DFID about what
the Comprehensive Approach is. This must be underpinned by joint
policy and doctrine. In recent years, the UK has always operated
in coalition with allies and international organisations making
a common understanding of methods and desired outcomes and of
the Comprehensive Approach crucial. The UK has been at the forefront
of thinking on and the development of the Comprehensive Approach,
and it must continue to work with allies to embed its use in the
major international organisationsthe UN, NATO and the EU.
176. The forthcoming Strategic Defence Review
should form part of a wider and more comprehensive security review
looking at the UK's desire and ability to participate in operations
requiring the use of the Comprehensive Approach. The Review presents
an opportunity to ensure that the Comprehensive Approach is embedded
in future Government policy and that the Armed Forces are designed,
trained and equipped to perform their role in such operations.
177. It is crucial that, in all situations requiring
the Comprehensive Approach, certain elements should be agreed
at the very earliest stage based on a thorough and all-embracing
assessment of the situation. These elements include leadership,
objectives, a defined end state, strategy, tactics and the nature
of personnel required. This assessment may need to be amended
in response to changing threats and other circumstances but this
should not prevent an early assessment taking place which reflects
the needs and expectations of local nationals. Communication is
a key component of any strategy and needs to include plans for
conveying the strategic intent of the mission to local nationals
and also to the British public in an informative but fair and
178. There is evidence that the Comprehensive
Approach is beginning to work in Afghanistan and elsewhere but
there is still much to develop especially in Whitehall and in
working multi-nationally with allies and international organisations.
We have heard a lot said about the importance of the Approach
but if it is to continue to work in Afghanistan and in future
areas of conflict, then the policy must be given the leadership,
political clout and resources it needs. In responding to this
Report, the MoD must set out how the Comprehensive Approach is
being addressed in the Strategic Defence Review.
129 Qq 88, 217-218, 282 Back
Q 88 Back
Ev 85 Back
Q 14 Back
Ev 85 Back
Q 167 Back
Q 175 Back
Q 179 Back
Q 140 Back
Q 106 Back
Qq 38, 78, 182-183, 271 Back
Qq 28, 29 Back
Q 195 Back
Qq 142-143 Back
Q 402 Back
Q 403 Back
Q 155 Back
David Mansfield, Sustaining the Decline?: Understanding the Changes
in Opium Poppy Cultivation in the 2008/09 Growing Season, May
2009, www.fco.gov.uk/resources Back
Q 155 Back
Ev 85 Back
Ev 93-95 Back
Ev 93 Back
Ev 93-95 Back
Q 66 Back
Q 194 Back
Q 242 Back
Q 243 Back
Q 383 Back
Q 42 Back
General McChrystal address at the International Institute for
Strategic Studies, 1 October2009, www.iiss.org Back
Qq 168-171, 180-181, 188-191, 356-360 and 364-368 Back
Q 172 Back
Q 180 Back
Ev 158-159 Back
Q 42 Back
Q 44 Back
Q 45 Back
Q 236 Back
Q 237 Back
Q 238 Back
Q 290 Back
BBC/ABC/ARD poll reported in 2009, www.bbc.co.uk
BBC/ABC/ARD poll of 1,534 Afghan nationals from all 34 provinces
in Afghanistan, 11-23 December 2009, www.bbc.co.uk Back
Qq 196-197 Back
Ev 160 Back
Q 400 Back
Q 239 Back
Q 240 Back
Qq 108, 197, 392 Back
Ev 160 Back