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The Afghanistan: Lessons from Australia’s Whole-of-Government Mission Report, commissioned by the Department of Defence, in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Federal Police, outlines the strengths, good practices and challenges of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan at the whole-of-government level.

While each overseas mission has its own particular circumstances and context, there are important lessons that we can take away from the Afghanistan experience.

This report highlights 17 such lessons to enhance how we work across government and improve cooperation for complex missions of the future.

Key lessons include:

  • Involving all relevant departments and agencies in whole-of-government policy development and planning from the outset;
  • Establishing a senior level interagency group to oversee policy development and provide a high-level nexus with the National Security Committee of Cabinet and the Secretaries’ Committee on National Security;
  • Recognising the value of civil-military co-leadership in the field;
  • Agreeing principles and protocols be developed at the outset of the mission to define working relationships and responsibilities between different services and agencies;
  • Undertaking collective mission preparation involving military, civilians and police, including exercises focused on developing cross-agency relationships at the headquarters level;
  • Establishing a cross-agency public affairs capability to highlight the whole-of-government nature of the mission;
  • Synchronising posting and deployment cycles for civilian, military and police personnel;
  • Tasking the Australian Civil Military Centre with providing a standing whole-of-government lessons learned capability for overseas missions.
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