Security Force Assistance in Afghanistan

Identifying Lessons for Future Efforts

by Terrence Kelly, Nora Bensahel, Olga Oliker


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Security force assistance (SFA) is a central pillar of the counterinsurgency campaign being waged by U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The outcome of the campaign hinges, in large measure, on the effectiveness of the assistance given to the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and other security forces, assistance that the International Security Force must provide while fighting the insurgents. Yet senior U.S. military and civilian officials have posed many questions about the effectiveness of SFA in Afghanistan, and no empirically rigorous assessments exist to help answer these questions. This monograph analyzes SFA efforts in Afghanistan over time and documents U.S. and international approaches to building the Afghan National Security Forces from 2001 to 2009. Finally, it provides observations and recommendations that emerged from extensive fieldwork in Afghanistan in 2009 and their implications for the U.S Army.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Overview of Security Force Assistance During the Coalition Era, 2001-2009

  • Chapter Three

    Observations About Recent SFA Efforts in Afghanistan

  • Chapter Four

    A Framework for SFA and Assessing SFA During Conflict

  • Chapter Five

    Implications of SFA in Afghanistan for the U.S. Army

  • Appendix A

    Selected Literature and Documents Reviewed

  • Appendix B

    Selected Interviews

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center

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