Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

In December 2018, President Donald Trump directed the Secretary of Defense to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan by half. In this paper, the authors consider the likely effects of an early and complete or near-complete departure unrelated to a negotiated peace settlement. Among the consequences described are that the government in Kabul will begin to lose influence and legitimacy; the Taliban will lose interest in negotiating peace with the United States; and extremist groups will gain additional scope to organize, recruit, and initiate terrorist attacks. Winning in Afghanistan may not be an available option, but losing certainly is, and a precipitous departure, no matter how rationalized, would mean choosing to lose.

This project is a RAND Venture. Funding was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. The research was conducted by the International Security and Defense Policy Center within the RAND National Security Research Division of the RAND Corporation.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Perspective series. RAND Perspectives present expert insights on timely policy issues. All RAND Perspectives undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.