Comparative Perspectives on Civil-Military Relations in Conflict Zones

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The RUSI Project on Civil-Military Relations was designed to bring together the relevant stakeholders involved on the ground in Afghanistan and other conflicts to improve understanding and dialogue amongst these actors. This paper represents some of the unfiltered views presented during the course of the project. The introduction and conclusion draw upon interviews and the off-the-record sessions held in the UK and US.

As NATO approaches its sixtieth anniversary, the Alliance finds itself involved in a complex mission in Afghanistan that ranges from peace-enforcement to all out war-fighting. It is a campaign on the ground in Afghanistan, but is part of a much larger strategic battle that plays itself out on television and online. This unfamiliar context has pushed NATO to the limit and the Alliance’s involvement in Afghanistan, while admirable, has not always been as effective as many policy-makers would like. The challenge is to secure both Afghanistan and the future of the Alliance; failure could possibly destroy NATO and leave Afghanistan worse off.

This project examines the complex nexus of civil-military co-operation in Afghanistan at the international level. The focus is specifically on NATO, the efforts to improve the Alliance’s work in Afghanistan and the organisation’s relations with other actors involved in the current situation in Afghanistan. 


Sir Michael Aaronson is the Chair of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Geneva, Switzerland.

Mark Beautement works in the fields of defence and foreign affairs within the United Kingdom.

Joachim Bruns is a strategic planner within the Civilian/Military Cell of the European Union Military Staff (EUMS).

Kate Clouston is a Research Associate in the Transatlantic Security Programme at RUSI.

Tørris Jæger is head of the international law unit in the Norwegian Red Cross.

Daniel Korski is a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. He was the Deputy Head of PCRU, and headed the UK-led Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Howard Mollett is the Humanitarian Policy Adviser at CARE International UK. The UK Joint CIMIC Group is a specialist unit that manages the interface between military and civilian organisations wherever British forces are deployed on operations.

Michael J Williams is the Head of the Transatlantic Security Programme at RUSI and director of the Cusps Operations Programme at the Institute, which examines civil-military relations.


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