Application of Project Management in Ministerial Security Development


Carol Axten

International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistan



After the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the U.S. Defense focus turned to fighting terrorism throughout the world.  The U.S. entered into a conflict with Afghanistan to remove the Taliban government which supported Osama Bin Laden and insurgent training camps.  In 2003, the U.S. expanded the “Global War on Terror” to include Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein and purge the country of Al Qaeda insurgents.  In both situations, government functions were devastated and needed to be rebuilt using democracy as a framework.  This paper will discuss applying a strategic to tactical, multi-dimensional approach to project management  to a Ministerial Security Development mission laying a foundational framework with developmental processes.  Although this paper focuses on the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the same approach applies to other Security Ministries such as Ministry of Interior and National Department of Security. This paper does not cover the “fight” element of contingency operations. The project management approach utilizes the business models adopted by the Pentagon to establish organization operations.

There are numerous challenges to establishing this foundation.  Whether a U.S. or NATO mission, short term objectives accomplished through constant turnover of military and civilian personnel causes fragmentation of effort.  Most assignments are one year requiring a complete turnover of personnel every summer; many are as short as 5-6 months.

The U.S’s ability to establish effective MoD organizations in these regions is essential to a decreasing Department of Defense (DoD) budget particularly with Sequestration.  Self-sufficiency of the MoD means less manpower by the Coalition Security Assistance Force (CSAF).  The lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that establishing Ministerial Security functional capability, such as Human Resource Management, Budgeting, Contracting, Logistics, and Institutional Training cannot be approached as a campaign plan.  Instead, it should be more closely aligned with project management and the ability to define objectives, determine tasks, create performance measures, and evaluate the nation’s ability to operate independently of Coalition support.  A project management approach provides the tools for business operations planning typical of the Pentagon and allows for identifying and managing risks in a very uncertain environment.


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 1st Annual University of Maryland Project Management Symposium in College Park, Maryland, USA and included in the conference Proceedings in June 2014.  It is republished here with permission of the author and the Project Management Center for Excellence at the University of Maryland.

About the Author

pmwj25-aug2014-Axten-AUTHOR IMAGECarol Axtenflag-usa


Carol Axten was the Senior Advisor to the Afghan Assistant Ministry of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics in 2012-2014. She was deployed to Iraq as the Senior Advisor for Acquisition to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in 2010-2011.    Ms Axten has 30 years with the Naval Air System Command and has served in several positions in both the engineering and program management fields for major weapon system development.  She spent 18 months as a Policy Analyst in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Air Programs).  As part of the Capitol Hill Fellowship Program, Ms. Axten served as the Military Legislative Assistant to Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a then member of the House Armed Services Committee.  She provided guidance to the Congressman dealing with defense, intelligence, budget committee, government reform and oversight, and women’s issue and represented the Congressman in meetings with senior members of the Military Services, as well as, Corporate Executives and local Government officials.

Ms. Axten is a PhD Candidate in Civil Engineering with a major in Project Management from the University of Maryland. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA and several Masters degrees: Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF); Master of Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, Malvern, PA; Master of Art in International Relations from Salve Regina University, Newport, RI; and a Master of Science in Business Administration from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.  While at ICAF, she completed the courses Reconstruction and Nation Building, Middle East Studies, and International Comparative Defense Industries. Her area of focus in International Relations was on Russia and Eastern European Politics.

Ms. Axten is a graduate of the College of Naval Command and Staff of the Naval War College and has received a Master Certificate in Legislative Studies from Georgetown University and a Master Certificate in Contract Management from George Washington University.  She is a member of the DOD Acquisition Professional Community; graduate of the NAVAIR Senior Management Development Program, Executive Potential Program; and the Defense Leadership & Management Program.   Her recognition and awards include Joint Meritorious Unit Award for mission in Afghanistan (June 2013), Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award (May 2011), Global War on Terror Award (April 2011), NAWCAD Innovation Award for Program Management (2005), Daniel S. McCauley Professional Achievement (1994), and semi-finalist in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Essay Contest (2009). She has published several papers on mathematical modeling of system operation.  Carol can be contacted at [email protected].