Sustainability of the Afghan Law Enforcement and Security Forces: A ‘Wicked, Messy Problem’


Aside from the challenges associated with establishing and maintaining security within Afghanistan, government officials are faced with the additional and equally complex tasks of implementing and maintaining appropriate sustainability measures over the longer term. This paper explores the subject of Afghan security force sustainability using General Morphological Analysis (GMA)—a method that has proven to be highly suited to the detailed analysis of wicked, messy problems. The paper acknowledges that the sustainability problem in Afghanistan exhibits systemic features that conspire to cause underperformance and, if an appropriate level of sustainability is to be achieved, these systems-based elements must be managed. A factors and conditions array (Zwicky Box) is developed that captures the primary factors associated with sustainability, extends these into a range of conditions from the most favourable to the most unfavourable, specifies the current and desired conditions (the end–state), and provides for a series of planned condition changes to get from here to there. Key stages of the GMA process are highlighted throughout with comparisons made between operational design, critical vulnerabilities, asymmetry, and other military planning terms. The method, however, does not claim to replace conventional military planning processes; rather, it complements and invites a deeper appreciation of the problem space in a solution-independent manner, thereby informing more purposeful actions.


Photo of Dr. Guy Duczynski

Edith Cowan University
Perth, Australia

Dr Guy Duczynski is a security professional with over 40 years’ military service in Special Operations. In addition to a PhD in operational design, he has an MBA and a Master’s of Education. He is an active  researcher and publisher in a variety of subjects associated with information operations, influence activities, and operations in complex environments.

Polish Military Forces

Jaroslaw Jablonski is a member of the Polish Special Forces and holds the title of Colonel. He joined the Polish Army in 1989 and received his commission in 1993. He served as a paratroop platoon leader and company commander and successfully passed the selection course for the GROM in 2002, where he has since served in several positions. Jablonski received his Master of Arts degree in defense analysis from the Naval Post-Graduate School in 2009 and PhD from the social study (information and knowledge management) in 2012. Jablonski has a combined 39 months of deployment time in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and ISAF.

The Center for Army Analysis Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Samuel H. Huddleston is currently a Senior Operations Research and Systems Analyst (ORSA) for the US Army. He holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy, where he also served as an Assistant Professor. His research interests include statistical learning, agent–based simulation, crime analysis, and network analysis.

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