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. 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

    Feb 27, 2020

    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?

Explore Afghanistan

  • Taliban insurgents turning themselves in to Afghan National Security Forces

    Commentary

    Bringing the Taliban to the Table: Long-Term Prospects for the Afghan Peace Talks

    The Afghan government and the Taliban have signaled that the United States would be the most suitable third-party interlocutor and most effective at holding the parties to their word in any agreement. Yet the U.S. must accept that the timeline must be organically determined by the Afghans and not manufactured to meet a predetermined schedule, writes Jason Campbell.

    Oct 11, 2012

  • Afghan girls talking with a U.S. soldier

    Commentary

    The Death of a 'Butterfly' in Kabul

    Like the rest of Afghanistan, these children are so easy to love, but for some so hard. And, like the rest of Afghanistan, they are largely as we have made them, through a combination of kicking and kindness that has bred dependence and resentment, without leaving much of substance, writes Rebecca Zimmerman.

    Sep 13, 2012

  • Secretary of the Army John McHugh meets with members of the Afghan Local Police in the village of Tabin

    Commentary

    Afghan Training Violence: Repairing the Vetting Process Is Key

    While Taliban infiltration poses an obvious threat to the Afghan Local Police program and NATO forces, the greater threat may be in exacerbating political tension between the United States and Afghanistan, writes Seth Jones.

    Sep 6, 2012

  • Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta passes and reviews members of the Indian military during an honors ceremony in Delhi, India

    Commentary

    America and India: Growing Partners in Afghanistan

    A comprehensive Indian military training effort in Afghanistan would balance Pakistan's own involvement in the country, build upon a decade of American achievements in fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and contribute to peace and security in the region, write Larry Hanauer and Peter Chalk.

    Aug 10, 2012

  • Gen. David Petraeus, commander of ISAF and commander of USFOR-A, visited Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 14, 2010

    Blog

    Building an Afghanistan Security Force: What the US Experience in Iraq (and the Soviet Experience in Afghanistan) Can Teach Us

    The United States and its partners should work with the Afghans to define what sort of police development can be realistically envisioned for Afghanistan, and devote resources and assistance to developing that into the future.

    Jul 18, 2012

  • Testimony

    Security Force Development in Afghanistan: Learning from Iraq

    Today, as withdrawal looms, the United States and its partners should work with the Afghans to define what sort of police development can be realistically envisioned for Afghanistan, and devote resources and assistance to developing that into the future.

    Jul 18, 2012

  • 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 24, 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

    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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    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

    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