NATO in the Crucible

NATO in the Crucible

Coalition Warfare in Afghanistan, 2001–2014

Author: Deborah L. Hanagan
ISBN: 978-0-8179-2295-5
Publication Date: 9/1/2019

When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) became involved in security operations during the War in Afghanistan, it faced a range of complex challenges, including a highly motivated Afghan insurgency that changed over time and repeatedly defied assumptions.

Conflicts within NATO also posed challenges. The alliance brought together a quarter of the world’s nations, each with its own goals and interests, in an effort to stabilize an agrarian country that posed no immediate security threat. For more than a decade, through changes in leadership and strategy, the nations experienced bitter disagreements, resentments, and a conflict that escalated to a level of violence and uncertainty few had anticipated.

In NATO in the Crucible, Deborah Lynn Hanagan analyzes these challenges and explains how the alliance maintained cohesion despite them. She examines why NATO succeeded in Afghanistan when history suggests most coalitions fracture under such intense pressure. In the end, she argues, member nations summoned the political will and organizational capacity to cooperate and endure. And they agreed, above all, that failure in Afghanistan would be catastrophic—both for NATO and for the world.

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Deborah L. Hanagan

Deborah comes to Hoover from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Presidio of Monterey, where she was the Installation Chief of Staff. Earlier in her career, Deborah served in the Persian Gulf War and was selected to be an Olmsted Scholar at the Political Science Institute, Aix-en-Provence, France, where she earned a Diploma of Advanced Studies in French military history, security and defense studies. She subsequently completed training as a European Foreign Area Officer. She has served as the Chief, Office of Defense Cooperation in Ljubljana, Slovenia, as a Political-Military Staff Officer for the US-European Command in Germany, and as a Military Bilateral Cooperation Program Manager at HQ, US Army Training and Doctrine Command. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy and a master’s in international policy studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Among her awards are the Bronze Star Medal, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, and the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Her research at Hoover will focus on European security affairs.


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1. Setting the Stage

2. September 2001 – July 2003: NATO Absence

3. August 2003 – September 2008: NATO Gets into the Game

4. October 2008 – December 2014: NATO Surges

5. Why Cohesion Endured Under Adversity


Appendix 1: Command Structures (OEF and ISAF)

Appendix 2: ISAF Rotations and Commanders

Appendix 3: Coalition Force Levels

Appendix 4: Provincial Reconstruction Teams




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