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.

  • People try to get into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Q&A

    Collapse in Afghanistan: Early Insights from RAND Researchers

    Aug 17, 2021

    The sudden end to America's longest war came as the Taliban rolled into Kabul and the government collapsed. RAND researchers share their thoughts on how to help displaced Afghans, whether the country could again become a safe haven for terrorists, and the geopolitical implications of the collapse.

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other Taliban delegation members attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2021, photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

    Jul 22, 2021

    China is set to benefit significantly from a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. It's worth following this dynamic closely in the coming weeks and months.

Explore Afghanistan

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta meets with Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, in Delhi, India, June 5, 2012

    Commentary

    Indian Military Assistance Is Needed in Afghanistan

    In the long run, a more robust Indian military role in Afghanistan represents one of the best ways to advance New Delhi's strategic interests while fostering Kabul's continued security and economic development after US and NATO forces begin to withdraw in 2014, write Larry Hanauer and Peter Chalk.

    Jul 12, 2012

  • Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta attends the NATO Summit in Chicago, May 21, 2012

    Commentary

    Three Challenges Still Await NATO

    Three challenges still await NATO: containing fallout from France's new policy, re-opening the Pakistan supply lines, and the need for Russian cooperation, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.

    May 23, 2012

  • U.S. President Barack Obama puts his arm on Afghan President Hamid Karzai after they signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement in Kabul, May 2, 2012

    Commentary

    The Next War

    To prepare for the interventions to come in the next decade, the United States must adapt the lessons from its experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and use them to generate a new, more realistic, and feasible doctrine, write Radha Iyengar and Douglas A. Ollivant.

    May 7, 2012

  • News Release

    News Release

    U.S. Military's Efforts to Influence Afghan Population Have Grown Less Effective Over Time

    The efforts of U.S. military information operations and psychological operations in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2010 grew less successful over time, as disenchantment with foreign occupation grew.

    Apr 30, 2012

  • leaflet drop over Iraq

    Report

    U.S. Military's Efforts to Influence Afghan Population Have Grown Less Effective Over Time

    The efforts of U.S. military information operations and psychological operations in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2010 grew less successful over time. The most notable shortcoming was the inability to counter the Taliban propaganda campaign against U.S. and coalition forces on the theme of civilian casualties.

    Apr 30, 2012

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Assessing Military Information Operations in Afghanistan, 2001–2010

    This research brief offers an overview of the effectiveness of U.S. psychological operations in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2010, with particular attention to how well messages and themes were tailored to target audiences.

    Apr 30, 2012

  • U.S. Army Major greets a local resident at Jani Kheyl, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    Should the U.S. Leave Afghanistan Now? History Favors More Time

    The Afghans will have better prospects for defeating their insurgency with continued improvement, of course, and the United States can contribute to that improvement while American forces remain, writes Christopher Paul.

    Apr 3, 2012

  • Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta enters a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 14, 2011, photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/U.S. Dept. of Defense

    Commentary

    Negotiating Peace in Afghanistan Without Repeating Vietnam

    The Vietnam negotiations arose from a U.S. initiative, in response to domestic political imperatives and over repeated objections from the Saigon regime. By contrast, the incipient Afghan process has its roots in that society, not ours, writes James Dobbins.

    Jan 13, 2012

  • U.S. solider on patrol in Afghanistan

    Commentary

    Why the Haqqani Network Is the Wrong Target

    In focusing on the Haqqani network—which enjoys little popular support in Afghanistan—the United States is neglecting the more important (and difficult) task of dealing with the Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Nov 6, 2011

  • Dissertation

    Dissertation

    Developing Stability: Community-Driven Development and Reconstruction in Conflict-Affected Settings

    Tests the hypothesis that development and reconstruction actors can feasibly implement sound development and reconstruction across a relatively wide spectrum of conflict, but varying levels and natures of violence can affect its delivery.

    Nov 4, 2011

  • U.S. soldiers and Afghan police officers talk with Afghan citizens at Checkpoint 64 near Loy Karez in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, November 2, 2011, photo by Spc. Louis Kernisan/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Security from the Bottom Up

    If the Afghan government is to have a chance of defeating the Taliban, its national-security forces must successfully leverage the country's many competing factions, village by village, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Oct 7, 2011

  • The sun rises above the mountain ridges of Kunar province overlooking the bunkers of soldiers from the Afghan army at Combat Outpost Pirtle King in Ghaziabad district in eastern Afghanistan, September 24, 2011, photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    Commentary

    Don't Overestimate Afghanistan Pessimism

    Multiple polls commissioned by independent news and other organizations consistently reveal an Afghan population that sees improvement in its well-being, has a favorable view of its government and is optimistic about its future, writes James Dobbins.

    Sep 29, 2011

  • A U.S. soldier uses a pair of binoculars to scan an area with a rainbow after a firefight with the Taliban at Outpost Bari Alai in Ghaziabad district in Kunar, Afghanistan, September 15, 2011, photo by Erik de Castro/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is It Time to Withdraw from Afghanistan?

    Without the support of U.S. troops, the Afghan government would likely collapse to Taliban forces, backed by neighboring Pakistan, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Sep 19, 2011

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Afghanistan: Guidelines for a Peace Process

    The overarching Western objective in Afghanistan should be to prevent that country from becoming not just a haven for transnational terrorists, but a terrorist ally as well.

    Aug 1, 2011

  • Multimedia

    After bin Laden

    Seth Jones, Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, speaks about the latest developments in Afghanistan following the death of Osama bin Laden.

    Jun 15, 2011

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    What Are You Prepared to Do? NATO and the Strategic Mismatch Between Ends, Ways, and Means in Afghanistan — and in the Future

    This article examines ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) operations in Afghanistan as a way to get at the strategic disconnects in ends, ways, and means.

    May 1, 2011

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Prison as Indoctrination Center

    The Taliban view incarceration foremost as a means to attract new recruits and enhance the jihadist resolve and ideological purity of their own members, writes Arturo Munoz.

    Apr 26, 2011

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Your COIN Is No Good Here

    One can legitimately argue for reducing the United States' commitment to the Afghan war, but it makes no sense to denigrate the tactics and techniques best designed to counter an insurgency, writes James Dobbins.

    Oct 26, 2010

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Psychological Operations by Another Name Are Sweeter

    The Department of Defense has decided to change the name of military psychological operations (PSYOP) and this is a good thing, writes Christopher Paul.

    Jul 29, 2010

  • News Release

    News Release

    Local Communities in Afghanistan Can Play Crucial Role in Improving Security

    The Afghan government and NATO can improve security in Afghanistan by leveraging traditional policing institutions in rural villages and mobilizing the population against insurgents.

    Jul 25, 2010