Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani and U.S. President Barack Obama after their joint news conference in Washington March 24, 2015

commentary

(War on the Rocks)

November 5, 2015

Saving Afghanistan: More Than Just Troops

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani and U.S. President Barack Obama after their joint news conference in Washington March 24, 2015

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

by S. Rebecca Zimmerman

President Obama recently revealed two changes to Afghanistan troop commitments. He also made another, vaguer commitment that has received far less attention. But it is this commitment — to “continue to support President Ashraf Ghani and the national unity government as they pursue critical reforms” — that will determine whether the U.S. troop commitment to Afghanistan has any value.

Obama's intention to slow the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2016 and to preserve a force of 5,500 in the country thereafter comes with no change of mission for America's military. Troops will continue to conduct two tasks: countering terrorist threats and advising Afghan security forces on development and operations. The truth, though, is that these two missions alone cannot save Afghanistan from an unfortunate future....

The remainder of this commentary is available on warontherocks.com.


Rebecca Zimmerman is an associate policy analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.

This commentary originally appeared on War on the Rocks on November 5, 2015. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.