Many staff members in the NCI Agency do extraordinary work in exciting places with tremendous people. Few get an invitation to brief SACEUR and the SHAPE Command Group on their project findings, drawing together World Bank economists, Iranian-born academics, and some of the world's leading experts on Pakistan, international extremism and counter-narcotics. But since 2008, this is exactly what Operational Analysis (OA) service line analysts get to do, in order to support and inform SHAPE's strategic periodic assessment of the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
The latest, 14th independent assessment workshop was recently held at SHAPE, drawing together Agency analysts, NATO stakeholders from SHAPE J5 (Strategic Plans and Policy) and Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC), Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Brunssum, the NATO Intelligence Fusion Centre and a varied panel of external civilian experts. During intense four-day discussions, diverse issues such as assessing the prospects for the National Unity Government, the regional situation and the strength of extremist terrorist groups were addressed, and drawn together in a series of outbriefs, Q&A sessions and a written report which will inform the Spring 2017 periodic report for the NATO Resolute Support mission.
The project genesis dates from a 2008 SACEUR tasking to NC3A Operational Analysts (now the NCI Agency OA Service Line) to develop an initial operating capability to assist SHAPE in its understanding of progress towards strategic mission goals of the ISAF mission.
Given the scope and scale of the mission, the complexity of the environment, and at that stage, the lack of an organizational structure or expertise within SHAPE to conduct such an assessment, the project proposed to develop an independent system-of-systems assessment framework based on the inputs and insights from a panel of civilian subject matter experts (SMEs), comprising world-class academics and practitioners with deep experience of Afghanistan, the region, and key non-traditional military areas such as counter-narcotics. The assessment framework continues to draw on a wide range of quantitative and qualitative indicators, drawn together into a synthesised analysis and report designed to complement existing assessments from within the chain of command.
The OA Service Line takes great pride in supporting SHAPE in this highly valued but relatively low-profile project, which also draws on expertise developed from the year-round support provided by other analysts within the Service Line to HQ Resolute Support in Kabul and JFC Brunssum. To provide Operations Assessment support at these different HQ levels requires great flexibility, a diverse skillset and a high degree of customer focus.
The 15th independent assessment will take place in the third quarter of 2017.