Afghanistan

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Afghanistan has long been a crossroads of world cultures, economies, politics, and militaries. RAND's early research on Afghanistan examined the 1980s Soviet military campaign and the subsequent fundamentalist Islamic regime. Since Operation Enduring Freedom, the 2001 U.S. military effort to rout the Taliban and find Osama bin Ladin's Al Qaeda network, RAND has engaged the new Afghan government, military, and people to support reconstruction, counterinsurgency, and nation-building efforts.

Explore Afghanistan

  • Blog

    The Importance of the Election in Afghanistan

    It is easy to assume the outcome of the race doesn't really matter for U.S. policy. But an ossifying government excludes and disenfranchises youth with new ideas. Without popular participation, Afghanistan's future becomes more prone to partisan cleavages and extremism.

    Apr 7, 2014

  • Report

    Lessons Learned from the Afghan Mission Network: Developing a Coalition Contingency Network

    Reviews and assesses the operational and technical history of the Afghan Mission Network, the primary network for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and identifies lessons learned for future coalition networks.

    Mar 28, 2014

  • Blog

    Stuck Between a Rock and the 'Zero Option'

    A total drawdown of American forces — the “zero option” — is a real possibility. Recently, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the United States would begin planning for this contingency because of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's failure to sign a bilateral security agreement.

    Mar 13, 2014

  • Blog

    The Pernicious Effects of Uncertainty in Afghanistan

    While upcoming elections and sustained Taliban attacks are keeping many Afghans on edge, the greatest long-term threat to Afghanistan right now is the slow, insidious rot of uncertainty that is permeating nearly every facet of Afghan society.

    Mar 12, 2014

  • Research Brief

    Lessons for a Negotiated Settlement in Afghanistan — If History Serves as a Guide

    Historical insurgencies that ended in settlement after a stalemate have generally followed a seven-step path. A master narrative distilled from these cases could help guide and assess the progress toward a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan.

    Feb 28, 2014

  • Blog

    Take Two for the Taliban?

    This time, the Taliban do not have the luxury of ingratiating themselves as purveyors of justice amidst chaos, only to later reveal themselves as bullying extremists. Moreover, in a post-9/11 world the international community now understands the potential ramifications of allowing such extremism to metastasize unchecked.

    Feb 13, 2014

  • Blog

    Train Afghans, Corral Al Qaeda: America's Enduring Mission in Afghanistan

    The mission of preventing al Qaeda from threatening the U.S. is an enduring one that will require a long-term commitment not just to counterterrorism, but to training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces so that they are better able to prosecute their own campaign against terrorists.

    Feb 11, 2014

  • Blog

    Parsing Steve Walt's 'Top 10 Mistakes' About Afghanistan

    Paul Miller takes issue with four of Steve Walt's 10 points in his latest essay that lists President Obama's withdrawal deadline as one of the top 10 biggest mistakes in the war in Afghanistan.

    Feb 10, 2014

  • Research Brief

    The Utility of Modeling and Analysis in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

    RAND examined the utility of operations analysis, modeling, and simulation for supporting decisionmaking in counterinsurgency and irregular warfare, with the focus on Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Feb 10, 2014

  • Report

    From Stalemate to Settlement: Lessons for Afghanistan from Historical Insurgencies That Have Been Resolved Through Negotiations

    Historical insurgencies that ended in settlement after a stalemate have generally followed a seven-step path. A master narrative distilled from these cases could help guide and assess the progress toward a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan.

    Feb 10, 2014

  • Report

    Modeling, Simulation, and Operations Analysis in Afghanistan and Iraq: Operational Vignettes, Lessons Learned, and a Survey of Selected Efforts

    RAND conducted an examination of operations analysis, modeling, and simulation support to decisionmaking in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to illustrate how these tools can support decisionmaking in irregular warfare.

    Feb 10, 2014

  • Blog

    State of the Union 2014: President Obama Calls for a Year of Action

    Obama called for “a year of action” to achieve his 2014 agenda — from helping people sign up for health insurance, to immigration reform, to completing the mission in Afghanistan. RAND is committed to raising the level of public policy debates and offering evidence-based, actionable solutions.

    Jan 29, 2014

  • Blog

    Presidential Candidates Need Multiethnic Consensus

    While many policymakers and analysts focus on who will be the next president of Afghanistan, the more important question may be whether the country's Pashtun, Uzbek, Tajik, Hazara, and other major constituencies will support the 2014 election's outcome.

    Dec 23, 2013

  • Blog

    Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    It is relatively easy to criticize what's going wrong in Afghanistan. It is much harder to propose a realistic way forward. Seth Jones and Keith Crane in a new report, “Afghanistan After the Drawdown,” suggest a calibrated political and military approach that protects U.S. interests at a realistic level of manpower and investment.

    Dec 6, 2013

  • Blog

    Seth Jones and Keith Crane: Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    The United States should maintain roughly 8,000–12,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014 to manage the complex political, security, and economic challenges that will accompany the reduction in forces, say Seth Jones and Keith Crane.

    Nov 27, 2013

  • Blog

    Just Ignore Karzai and Press On

    As important as a bilateral security agreement is to formalize America's long-term presence in Afghanistan. The current draft doesn't spell out the details of a U.S. military presence after 2014, including the size, composition, and strategy of U.S. forces. Those details are what matter most.

    Nov 26, 2013

  • Event

    The U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq and What It May Mean for Afghanistan

    The Woodrow Wilson Center and the RAND Corporation are co-presenting an event on November 5, 2013 on the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and what it may mean for Afghanistan.

    Nov 5, 2013

  • Blog

    The Missing Option for Afghanistan: A Response to Steve Biddle

    We don't have to settle for a choice between losing and losing expensively, writes Paul Miller. We can choose to sustain our commitment to the Afghans and secure our vital interests in South Asia. There is thus a heavy burden on the president to make a politically risky move against popular opinion.

    Nov 5, 2013

  • Blog

    Robinson Book on Special Ops Earns Plaudits

    Linda Robinson's One Hundred Victories shows how special operations forces are evolving to become the go-to force for military operations worldwide. The author, a senior international policy analyst at RAND, draws from her own on-the-ground reporting and interviews with key players inside the national defense community.

    Oct 17, 2013