Conflicts, both in Afghanistan as well as at home, will continue to have both a complex civilian and military character. Understanding past, current and future civilian domains is more necessary than ever before.

Both civilian and military actors tend to focus on lessons emanating from their own niche contributions. There may be lessons learned that are particular to individual specialty areas, however, lessons learned from the engagement in Afghanistan as a whole becomes very difficult without understanding how the different contributions worked with, against, or impacted everyone else in the operating environment. As such, discussions that focus on what might be perceived as largely military concerns while minimalizing the relevance or impact of civilian presence or engagement may give the impression that militaries worked in a vacuum, or that civilians were at best something to be protected or at worst, obstacles to overcome.

Read the full article by Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv, first published at War Room: Learning Painful Lessons from Afghanistan.