Lessons from Afghanistan for NATO's New Ukraine Command

commentary

Jul 8, 2024

U.S. and NATO troops arrive at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 24, 2017, photo by Omar Sobhani/Reuters

U.S. and NATO troops arrive at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 24, 2017

Photo by Omar Sobhani/Reuters

This commentary originally appeared on Defense One on July 7, 2024.

This piece is part of a commentary series on the upcoming NATO summit in Washington in which RAND researchers explore important strategic questions for the alliance as NATO confronts a historic moment, navigating both promise and peril.

At the Washington summit this week, NATO plans to launch a new command to lead the coordination of security assistance and training to Ukraine. This would be the alliance's first major new operation since the end of the mission in Afghanistan, and, according to some reports, is intended to reduce risk to Ukraine if support from the United States were to diminish.

However, one of the clear lessons from Afghanistan is that NATO is unable to execute operations without U.S. leadership. Ultimately, the level of Western support for Ukraine—and its effectiveness—will rise and fall based on U.S. policy and commitment, just as it did in Afghanistan. A U.S. policy of support to Ukraine remains the biggest lever to stop Russia's aggression and ensure Ukrainian victory.…

The remainder of this commentary is available at defenseone.com.


Andrew Radin is a senior political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution. From 2018 to 2020, he served as a country director for Afghanistan in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.