Afghanistan Whole-of-Government lessons report released

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Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Minister for Defence

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  • Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
  • Defence Media (02) 6127 1999

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30 November 2016

The first public whole-of-government lessons report on Australia’s mission in Afghanistan was officially launched today.

Commissioned by the Australian Civil-Military Centre, the report is based on a cross-government review undertaken by former Secretary of the Department of Defence and Australia’s Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr Ric Smith AO, PSM.

The Report considers Australia’s whole-of-government approach to Afghanistan between 2001 and 2013, which outlines the strengths and challenges of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the report highlights 17 lessons to enhance whole-of-government cooperation for future complex overseas missions, be they warlike operations, peacekeeping tasks or humanitarian and disaster relief missions.

These lessons are already being used to inform current cross-agency preparedness and planning.

“One of the key challenges highlighted in the report was that Australia did not adopt a whole-of-Government model when renewing its commitment to Afghanistan in 2005,” Minister Payne said.

As a result, when greater civilian and police involvement occurred from 2008-09, Australia had to retrofit planning and management arrangements around a well-established Australian Defence Force model.

Minister for Defence Personnel the Hon Dan Tehan MP said the report established a framework for improved inter-agency collaboration.

“Most future overseas operations will require a coordinated whole-of-government response. We owe it to all those who served in Afghanistan to adopt the lessons and continue to refine the way departments and agencies work together,” Minister Tehan said.

Other key lessons outlined in the report consider policy, risk assessment, preparation and planning, senior interagency leadership, alliance and coalition management, and the delivery of aid.

Australia remains committed to a stable and secure Afghanistan. The ADF’s current commitment includes approximately 270 ADF and Defence civilians deployed under Operation Highroad. Australia continues to work with the international community to provide long-term support to the government of Afghanistan as it seeks to consolidate hard-won security gains and to prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

The Australian Civil-Military Centre builds civil, military and police capabilities to prevent, prepare for and respond to conflict and disasters overseas. It comprises staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Defence Force, Defence Public Service, Australian Federal Police, the New Zealand Government and the Australian Council for International Development.

The report is available at

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Defence Media 02 6127 1999

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