Reflections on Afghanistan and US civil-military relations: A conversation with Lieutenant General (US Army-retired) David Barno

kutsutilaisuus · Webinar · 14.10.2021 16:30 - 17:30


The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and actions taken by a top military official to deescalate tensions with China in the final months of the Trump administration have renewed attention to the complex relationship between US civilian and military authorities. These incidents took place in a broader context wherein, according to some observers, the fundamental principle, embedded in the US Constitution, of civilian control over the military “has been quietly but steadily degraded” in recent decades. Additionally, there has been discussion of the politization of the US military by the former President and a rise of incidents of extremist and white supremacy views within the military ranks. This episode of Transatlantic Currents will discuss how the US experience in Afghanistan and other, more domestic-related events have affected civil-military relations; and possible avenues for institutional reforms and/or strengthening cultural norms to ensure a nonpartisan military.

The recording of the webinar is available at FIIA’s youtube-channel:


Opening remarks

Charly Salonius-Pasternak

Leading Researcher, FIIA

Charly Salonius-Pasternak is a Leading Researcher at FIIA and leads the work of the Center on US Politics and Power (CUSPP). His work at FIIA focuses on international security issues, especially Nordic and transatlantic security (including NATO), as well as U.S. foreign and defence policy. Recently he has focused on Finnish-Swedish defence cooperation and the evolution of US and NATO alliance reassurance approaches in light of the changed regional security situation. In 2017, he was a visiting research fellow at the Changing Character of War programme at Pembroke College (Oxford University), where he studied the hybridization of warfare and the impact of the Information Age on the character of war.


David Barno

Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

Lieutenant General David W. Barno, US Army (Ret.) is a Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies and Senior Fellow at the Merrill Center of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is also a Contributing Editor and Columnist for War on the Rocks, and an Adjunct Research Staff Member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. During General Barno’s 30-year active duty Army career, he commanded at every level, serving as an infantry officer, Ranger and paratrooper. In 2003, he established a new three-star operational headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, taking command of the 20,000 US and coalition forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. For 19 months as the senior American commander, Barno was responsible for overall coalition military leadership of the war in Afghanistan, implementing a new counterinsurgency strategy in close partnership with the US embassy and coalition allies. Following his military career, Barno served for four years as the Director of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. Following his time at NDU, he spent nearly five years as a Senior Fellow and later Co-Director of the Responsible Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security, a national security think tank based in Washington, D.C. He also later served as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. General Barno currently serves on the Secretary of Defense’s Reserve Forces Policy Board and is a member of the US Army War College Board of Visitors. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute of Strategic Studies. A graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, General Barno earned his master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College and the US Army War College. He has received numerous awards for his military and public service.


Leo Michel

Non-Resident Fellow, FIIA

Leo Michel is Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. His previous government positions included: Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies; Director for NATO Policy and Director for Non-Nuclear Arms Control in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Deputy U.S. Representative to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Consultative Commission as well as other goverment positions. Michel holds a M.A. from Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies and a B.A. from Princeton University.