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.
Research conducted by:
Center for Asia Pacific Policy;
RAND Project AIR FORCE;
RAND National Security Research Division;
RAND Arroyo Center;
Initiative for Middle Eastern Youth;
Center for Middle East Public Policy
Featured at RAND
Early 2013 Afghanistan ranks among the historical counterinsurgency winners, but its score is equal to those of the lowest-scoring historical wins. This tenuous position points to several areas in need of improvement.
For counterinsurgency interventions, the greatest value of local defense forces lies in intelligence, not combat; misuse of such defensive forces can greatly reduce their effectiveness.
Even when the U.S. military took all the right steps, its credibility was undercut by concern among Afghans in contested areas that their own government would be unable to protect them from a vengeful Taliban once U.S. and NATO forces left.
There are three key ingredients for peace in Afghanistan. Afghan leaders must negotiate a peace. Afghan neighbors must respect the peace. And Afghan soldiers and police must keep the peace.