Afghanistan - Lessons and effects on national military development, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands


  • Pär Eriksson
  • Eva Hagström Frisell
  • Teresa Åhman

Publish date: 2013-02-18

Report number: FOI-R--3592--SE

Pages: 78

Written in: Swedish


  • Afghanistan
  • NATO
  • ISAF
  • OEF
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • the
  • Netherlands
  • lessons learned
  • comprehensive approach
  • COIN
  • capacity building
  • military strategic development


The military operations in Afghanistan have been ongoing for almost 12 years. In 2014 the international community will withdraw most of its troops and finalise the handover of the security responsibility to the Afghan authorities. This study analyses the lessons learned from the operations in Afghanistan of Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands and how these lessons have influenced perceptions on future international operations and their implementation. The study concludes that the three countries differ in their security policy choices concerning future international operations. While Norway focuses on the national and territorial defence, Denmark has in many ways turned away from territorial defence and seeks active participation in international operations side by side with the most important allies. The Netherlands has also changed focus from defence of their own and allied territories to international operations. When it comes to the countries' views on international operations, it is difficult to derive a direct impact of one single operation such as the one in Afghanistan. One possible assumption is that the experience of the operations in Afghanistan affect the military strategic development less in countries with a predominantly national orientation of its defence forces (Norway), while it may reinforce and accelerate the process in countries committed to developing expeditionary capabilities (the Netherlands and Denmark). From a Swedish perspective, cooperation with Norway in international operations may be difficult given the country's prioritisation of national defence. Cooperation with Denmark can also be problematic, taking into account that the country is committed to participate in high-intensity conflicts along with allies. Sweden has not previously worked with the Netherlands in terms of joint operations, but this could be attractive in the future, not least since the Netherlands has made considerable progress in the development of the concept of comprehensive approach.