Afghanistan

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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.

  • U.S. advisors speak with their Afghan National Army counterparts during a routine fly-to-advise mission at Forward Operating Base Altimur, Afghanistan, September 19, 2018, photo by Sean Kimmons/U.S. Army

    Report

    What Best Practices in DDR Could Work for Afghanistan?

    Feb 24, 2020

    Implementing a peace accord between the Afghan government and the Taliban will take years. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) are likely to result from rather than lead the process, because disarmament requires a level of trust that can only be built over time. How can the U.S. best advise Afghan authorities on DDR?

  • U.S. soldiers and airmen enter an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter at an Afghan National Army combat outpost in Afghanistan on June 23, 2015, photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Getting Out of Forever Wars: What Are Biden's Options in Afghanistan?

    Mar 12, 2021

    U.S. counterterrorism strategy has long been driven by the assumption that security at home depends on fighting terrorists abroad. How will that square with the president's pledge to end forever wars? Is it possible to get out of warfighting without shutting down vital counterterrorist operations?

Explore Afghanistan

  • Blog

    Game Theory to Help the Vaccine Rollout, Abraham Accords, Telehealth: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how game theory can help the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, potential economic benefits of the Abraham Accords, telemedicine use during the pandemic, and more.

    Mar 19, 2021

  • Delegates attend talks between Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Biden Administration's Afghanistan Challenge

    American efforts to speed up plodding Afghan peace talks seem unlikely to produce results fast enough to facilitate a withdrawal of remaining American and NATO forces by May 1. But the initiative could prove beneficial if it impels the two Afghan sides to at least begin engaging on the principles upon which an expanded government should operate.

    Mar 16, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Commentary: Securing the Least Bad Outcome: The Options Facing Biden on Afghanistan

    President Biden must decide whether to withdraw the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan to meet a May 1 deadline. The consequences of the decision will decide the fate of Afghanistan and signal the U.S.' broader strategic intentions.

    Mar 12, 2021

  • Blog

    Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, COVID-19 Variants, Myanmar: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on alternatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military, how couples can sleep better during the pandemic, and more.

    Feb 12, 2021

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, signs an agreement with Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Afghanistan: Give Peace a Chance

    The timetable set out in the Afghan peace agreement was always unrealistically ambitious. If the Biden administration postpones the May withdrawal of U.S. troops, then this could provide the two Afghan sides more time to address core issues that must be resolved if any settlement is to stick.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Blog

    Schools and COVID-19, Health Care Resources, Leaving Afghanistan: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on allocating scarce but lifesaving resources during a pandemic, insights from America’s educators, the lopsided telework revolution, and more.

    Nov 20, 2020

  • Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the foreign minister of Qatar are seen during talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Islamic State in Afghanistan Is Down, but Not Out

    The Afghan Taliban is on the verge of entering into a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government in a peace deal facilitated by the United States. Washington seems to be holding out hope that the deal will stabilize the country. But the Islamic State Khorasan Province remains a concern. The Islamic State in Afghanistan may be down, but it's not out.

    Sep 14, 2020

  • A man wearing a t-shirt with an image of Zakir Rashid Bhat, the leader of an al Qaeda affiliated militant group in Kashmir, in Dadasara, Kashmir, May 24, 2019, photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is al Qaida Still a Threat?

    Nineteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, does al Qaida still pose a significant threat to U.S. national security? Among researchers, military and intelligence officials, and policymakers who study the group, there is little consensus. An accurate assessment of al Qaida's organizational health must take into account the group's recent and dramatic resurrection.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • Flags of the United States and Russia

    Multimedia

    How Might the U.S. Respond to Russia?

    RAND's Linda Robinson describes several options for how the U.S. might respond if reports that Russia offered bounties to the Taliban for targeting U.S. and coalition troops are confirmed.

    Jul 22, 2020

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping raises his glass and proposes a toast at the end of his speech during the welcome banquet, after the welcome ceremony of leaders attending the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 26, 2019, photo by Nicolas Asfour/Reuters

    Journal Article

    What China Wants in South Asia

    This brief outlines the issues facing different South Asian countries with respect to their relationships with China.

    Jun 12, 2020

  • Trucks wait to cross the Afghanistan-Iran border in Zaranj, Afghanistan, May 10, 2011, photo by Sgt. Mallory VanderSchans/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Does the U.S. Deal with the Taliban Present Opportunities for Iran in Afghanistan?

    Iran is watching closely as the United States and the Taliban negotiate an end to America's operations in Afghanistan. If the expected withdrawal of significant U.S. forces destabilizes Afghanistan, how much will Tehran assert its influence over its neighbor to the east?

    Apr 6, 2020

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, and Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, shake hands after signing an agreement at a ceremony between members of Afghanistan's Taliban and the U.S. in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibrahem Alomari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Peace Hasn't Broken Out in Afghanistan

    The United States and the Taliban signed a preliminary peace deal in February, aimed at ending nearly 19 years of war in Afghanistan and calling for the United States to gradually withdraw its troops. But talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government called for in the agreement and scheduled to begin on March 10 did not happen. What happens now?

    Mar 16, 2020

  • Blog

    Russian Subversion, Truth Decay, Supervised Drug Consumption Sites: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on responding to Russian subversion, how the media can help fight Truth Decay, the first supervised drug consumption site in the United States, artificial intelligence, and more.

    Feb 28, 2020

  • U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army base in Logar province, Afghanistan, August 7, 2018, photo by Omar Sobhani/Reuters

    Commentary

    The First Step on a Long Path to Peace in Afghanistan

    It has taken 10 years to reach the brink of a first substantial step in toward peace in Afghanistan, and much could still go wrong. Can the Taliban and the Afghan government come together to jointly govern the country?

    Feb 27, 2020

  • U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division secure an area during Operation Mountain Sweep near Narizah, southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, August 22, 2002, photo by Scott Schonauer/Stars & Stripes/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Post's Afghanistan Series

    The Washington Post series “The Afghanistan Papers” charges that “senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign.” As someone who was both an occasional participant in and frequent critic of the Bush and Obama administrations' Afghan policy deliberations, James Dobbins finds this charge considerably exaggerated.

    Dec 17, 2019

  • A compass pointing toward peace for Afghanistan, photo by XtockImages/Getty Images

    Report

    Envisioning a Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Afghanistan

    Throughout years of attempts to negotiate an end to the war in Afghanistan, the conflict parties articulated only the barest outlines of envisioned outcomes. A new detailed picture of a political settlement includes options for realistic compromises. It is presented in the format of a peace accord to show what the outcome of negotiations could look like.

    Dec 10, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015, photo by Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Reuters

    Report

    Understanding Russia's Intervention in Syria

    Russia's military intervention in the Syrian civil war began in 2015. This decision was the result of an extraordinary set of political and military circumstances. What might cause Moscow to take similar actions in other conflicts beyond its immediate neighborhood?

    Oct 31, 2019

  • Blog

    Inmate Suicides, India and Kashmir, Health Care: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap looks at preventing inmate suicides, India and Kashmir, improving health care for veterans, and more.

    Aug 16, 2019