Afghanistan

Featured

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.

  • Essay

    How Gender Diversity Improves Defense Operations

    It's U.S. defense policy to make sure women play a meaningful role in matters of war, peace, and security. This includes embedding women's perspectives in decisionmaking. Real-world examples show the benefits of applying a gender lens to military planning and operations.

    Jan 9, 2024

  • Commentary

    Escaping Afghanistan

    As of April 2023, about 152,000 Special Immigrant Visa applicants remain trapped in Afghanistan. Despite many recommendations and bipartisan support for reforming the program, only minor tweaks have been made. Meanwhile, the dangerously slow process has become practically a death sentence.

    Aug 14, 2023

Explore Afghanistan

  • India and America waving flags on blue sky. 3d illustration, photo by Rawf8 / Adobe Stock

    Report

    Conference Proceedings on Indian and U.S. Security Cooperation: Defense Production, Indo-Pacific Region, and Afghanistan

    A two-day conference explored Indian and U.S. views on security across the Indo-Pacific, informed by six papers discussing bilateral security cooperation, Russian arms sales to India, and the challenges posed by China to regional security.

    Aug 16, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    Comparing Taliban Social Media Usage by Language: Who's Speaking and What's Being Said

    Focusing on the economy, relationships with other militant groups and neighboring countries, and women's status in Afghan society, the authors examined whether Taliban social media messaging across various regional languages was similar or different.

    Apr 25, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    A Look Back at the War in Afghanistan, National Secuirty Risks, Hospice Care: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on why the United States “stayed the unfavorable course” in Afghanistan, the Ohio train derailment, state data on gun deaths, and more.

    Mar 3, 2023

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry views Kabul from the window of a Black Hawk military helicopter in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 26, 2013, photo by U.S. State Department/Alamy

    Report

    The Bureaucratic Inertia of U.S. Afghanistan Policy

    The U.S. policy goal of preventing Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terrorists remained constant for 20 years even as the dynamics of the war and the will of the policymaking community changed and there was no apparent hope of military victory. Why?

    Feb 21, 2023

  • Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, participates in a welcome ceremony with his Chinese counterpart Gen. Fang Fenghui at the Ba Yi, Aug. 15, 2017.

    Report

    Assessing the Prospects for Great Power Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

    This report, part of a four-part series, describes the potential for U.S. cooperation with China or Russia in the Indo-Pacific across seven issues, including securing a free and open Indo-Pacific and the denuclearization of North Korea.

    Feb 20, 2023

  • Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden in Jamkha, Afghanistan, May 1, 1998, photo by Balkis Press/ABACA/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Question of Succession in Al-Qaida

    Two months after the death of al Qaida leader Aymin al-Zawahiri, experts continue to debate potential contenders for his replacement while waiting for al-Qaeda to make an announcement. A dark horse contender with long ties to Osama bin Laden could upend predictions and threaten to revive one of history's most lethal terrorist groups.

    Sep 29, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Our New CEO, Algorithmic Bias, Equity in the Workplace: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on what RAND’s new president and CEO envisions for the future, addressing bias in health care algorithms, creating equitable change in the workplace, and more.

    Aug 5, 2022

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard near the site where Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. strike over the weekend, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    After the al-Zawahiri Strike, the U.S. May Lack Capabilities in Afghanistan

    The U.S. drone strike that killed al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan took out one of the last remaining key figures behind the 9/11 terror attacks. But it also highlighted how little the United States got out of its 2020 bargain with the Taliban, and raised questions about the U.S. ability to adequately monitor the developing threat from this quarter going forward.

    Aug 3, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Gun Policy, China and Taiwan, Russian Propaganda: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on reducing America's unacceptably high rates of gun violence, what would happen if China “quarantines” Taiwan, and Russia's “firehose of falsehood.”

    May 27, 2022

  • A Taliban leader Mullah Baradar Akhund hosted reception for a group of ambassadors to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on October 1, 2021, photo by EyePress via Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S. Policy Toward the Taliban: Engage, Isolate, or Oppose?

    With the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan and a growing humanitarian crisis, the United States faces several policy options. While isolation is the usual response to an unwelcome regime change, engagement offers the only prospect to advance U.S. interests in the country, mainly counterterrorism and humanitarian relief.

    May 26, 2022

  • Two hands holding a heart made out of flowers in the colors of Ukraine'a flag, photo by Maryna Petrenko-Shvets/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Reopening Old Wounds: Two Stories, One Lesson

    The shocking events unfolding in Ukraine have reopened old wounds for two RAND researchers. Their personal stories stand as testaments that the traumas inflicted by Russia's war on Ukraine will echo for decades to come.

    Apr 16, 2022

  • Blog

    RAND Commentary Highlights of 2021

    Vaccine rollouts, an attack on the U.S. Capitol, massive ransomware attacks, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, record numbers of job openings and people quitting, and more. RAND researchers weighed in on all these topics and more.

    Dec 21, 2021

  • View of Pakistan and Taliban flags at the Friendship Gate crossing point in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan, August 27, 2021, photo by Saeed Ali Achakzai/Reuters

    Commentary

    Complex Calculations Shape Pakistan-TTP Negotiations

    Pakistan sees the Taliban as a facilitator of discussions with the TTP, as an ally in persuading the TTP to negotiate, and as a guarantor of whatever agreement is reached. And given the Taliban's diplomatic isolation and desperate economic situation, Pakistan can in return assist Afghanistan's new rulers in gaining acceptance and aid.

    Dec 20, 2021

  • An Afghan woman holds her child as she and others wait to receive package being distributed by a Turkish humanitarian aid group in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 15, 2021, photo by Ali Khara/Reuters

    Commentary

    It's Time for the West to Engage with the Taliban

    As a winter crisis looms, the Afghan people need support more than ever. Economic collapse and isolation risk provoking deeper instability, insecurity, and repression. The international community should now look seriously at making a deal with the Taliban to address these risks.

    Dec 17, 2021

  • Afghan nationals enter Iran at the Dowqarun border crossing between Iran and Afghanistan, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran, August 29, 2021, photo by Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Afghan Refugees Are Being Recruited to Join an Iranian Paramilitary

    As Western policymakers consider how to deal with Afghan evacuees, including former members of the Afghan security forces, they might consider how to prevent adversaries such as Iran from recruiting Afghan refugees for dangerous and destabilizing operations. Greater attention to these risks may become increasingly important as refugee flows from Afghanistan continue.

    Nov 23, 2021

  • Paramilitary soldiers walk past the Pakistan Parliament building in Islamabad, Pakistan, April 10, 2015, photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

    Commentary

    Negotiating with TTP—A Different Perspective

    America's withdrawal and the Taliban's swift return to power in Afghanistan could be a primary force in shaping the trajectory of the continuing armed struggle with Pakistan's Taliban. It may be time for Islamabad to consider whether to renew efforts aimed at reaching a political settlement.

    Oct 27, 2021

  • U.S. and UK military leaders tour Main Operating Base Price, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, April 7, 2013, photo by Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Reconsidering U.S. Decisionmaking Within NATO After the Fall of Kabul

    With NATO, the United States often tries to have it all: U.S. leadership of the alliance and increased allied burden-sharing. But the recent experience in Afghanistan shows how the form U.S. leadership takes can frustrate allies. Prioritizing allied preferences would help to preserve alliance unity and maybe even strengthen burden-sharing.

    Oct 25, 2021

  • Refugee shields herself from rain, photo by Fayaz Aziz/Reuters

    Multimedia

    Afghanistan’s Refugee Crisis: Forty Years in the Making

    RAND senior policy researcher Shelly Culbertson discusses the history and current state of Afghanistan's refugee crisis.

    Oct 13, 2021