This study was commissioned by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Afghanistan Working Group (AWG) to provide a clearer overview of the key aid modalities used by the Australian Government in Afghanistan. Particular attention was paid to aid delivered by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as part of its counterinsurgency efforts in Uruzgan Province. The study was carried out from May - July 2010.
Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan dates largely from 11 September 2001. Prior to this and dating back to 1994, the Australian aid portfolio was minimal and ADF involvement was limited to mine clearance activities through the United Nations. After 9/11, and due to its role as major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally and an ally of the US increased significantly in 2006 with the deployment of ADF personnel to Uruzgan Province to support both military and stabilization/reconstruction efforts.
Currently Australia supports the revised Obama Administration’s strategy for Afghanistan that has seen a strategic shift in military command of NATO-International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), with a changed emphasis and the direction of military operations towards a counter-insurgency (COIN) ‘clear, hold and build’ campaign. The central principle in COIN strategy is to protect the population, reverse the Talban’s momentum and create the space to develop security and governance capacity in Afghanistan.
The purpose of this study is to clarify Australia’s whole-of-government financial, programmatic and human resource aid contributions to Afghanistan. Aid strategies, programs and activities of relevance of other key organisations and actors are also briefly reviewed. The intent is to summarise the different ways in which Australian aid agencies - both government and non-government - have performed in Afghanistan, to assess their outcomes and to comment on the effectiveness of the Australian led aid programs. As part of this, the study presents a summary of arguments from recent literature on the problems or successes of aid delivered as part of a counter-insurgency strategy or Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) delivery mechanisms, and identifies implications for Australian aid as a result.