Diplopundit's Lessons Learned Resources

 Below is a compilation of lessons learned resources with some relevance to the State Department and the Foreign Service.  Suggestions for additional materials would be appreciated. Please email me here.  Thanks!




Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience
    Released by SIGIR in January 2009 


Hard Lessons concludes with 13 lessons drawn from 6 difficult years of Iraq reconstruction. Virtually all the leadership interviewed  for this report agreed that the US approach to contingency relief and reconstruction operation needs reform.


The Iraq PRT program has highlighted the challenges that the U.S. government faces in conducting operations in conflicted environments. The Iraq PRT Project collected insights and lessons learned from government, military, and non-governmental officials. Interviews were conducted by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training under a contract with the Institute of Peace.

Includes interviews with 72 Government Officials from 2008-2009.  There are also several interviews of military officers and NGO personnel.

Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq
    Special Report, March 2007


This report examines the U.S. experience with PRTs in Iraq, notes shortcomings, and suggests ways they could be more effective. The report is based on statements by panelists at a public forum held at the Institute on February 14, 2007, and on interviews conducted by the author with government agencies and commercial contract firms that participate in the PRT program.  Report is by Robert M. Perito, senior program officer at the United States Institute of Peace.




Sudan's North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is a unique example of an effort by the international community to negotiate and to implement a peace agreement. The Sudan Experience Project Oral History Library contains the transcripts of nearly 100 interviews with those who negotiated and who are implementing the CPA. These first person accounts and the lessons learned from their experience are a substantial contribution to our understanding of the challenges of negotiating and implementing complex peace agreements.

Includes interviews with 33 Negotiators and 57 Implementers taken from 2006-2007.



In November 2005, there were 22 PRTs in Afghanistan: nine were directed by the U.S. and countries belonging to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force directed the other 13. The Afghanistan Experience Project collected lessons learned by Provincial Reconstruction Teams by interviewing 52 government officials, military officers, and representatives of international and non-governmental organizations who had served in Afghanistan. Interviews were conducted by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training under a contract with the Institute of Peace.

Includes interviews with 52 Government Officials in 2004-2005.  There are also several interviews of military officers (12) and IO/NGO personnel (4).


This report is the product of the United States Institute of Peace's Afghanistan Experience Project. It is based on extensive interviews conducted with American and foreign officials, soldiers, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations that worked directly with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan. It also reflects interviews conducted with a broad range of contacts during the author's visit to Afghanistan in June 2005. The report discusses lessons identified by those who served in Afghanistan. It is intended as a training aid for developing programs that prepare American personnel for service in peace and stability operations. Robert M. Perito, Coordinator of the Afghanistan Experience Project at the U.S. Institute of Peace, prepared this report.


 The 9/11 Commission Report
     Public report released on July 22, 2004


The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks. 

Legal Lessons Learned From Afghanistan and Iraq

Volume I | Major Combat Operations |
11 September 2001 – 1 May 2003


The events of 11 September 2001 set in motion a series of U.S. military, diplomatic, and law enforcement responses that together constitute what has become known as the “Global War on Terrorism,” or GWOT.  The focus of this Publication, however, is on the legal issues surrounding the GWOT military response. More specifically, the focus is on the lessons learned by military legal personnel involved in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) (primarily Afghanistan) and IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) (Iraq) from 11 September 2001 to the declared end of major combat operations on 1 May 2003.

Report of the Accountability Review Boards on
the Embassy Bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998

January 1999

      "Having completed an extensive review in Washington, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam, the Boards were most disturbed at two interconnected issues: 1) the inadequacy of resources to provide security against terrorist attacks, and 2) the relative low priority accorded security concerns throughout the US government. . . ."




The Inman Report: Report of the Secretary of State's Advisory Panel
on Overseas Security



In convening the Advisory Panel on Overseas Security, the Secretary of State outlined the scope and dimension of the security problems that confront the United States in continuing to do diplomatic business overseas as well as in providing adequate reciprocal protection for foreigners stationed or visiting the United States on diplomatic business. With the cooperation of a wide range of U.S. Government domestic and foreign affairs agencies, the Panel has examined the issues that relate to diplomatic security in the U.S and overseas. The report recommended a range of security improvements, including increased distance between embassies and public streets (known as "setback.") It also recommended a major building program to improve security in existing embassies, and build new embassies to replace those that could not meet security standards.