CSIS, Winning in Afghanistan: creating effective Afghan Security Forces


The situation in Afghanistan has reached the brink of chaos. The Taliban, Haqqani, and HIG forces have become far more lethal, and casualties for US, NATO, Afghan Army and Afghan Police forces are on the rise. US commanders have called for 20,000-35,000 more troops, but this is the number needed to buy time, not the number of US, NATO/ISAF, and Afghan forces needed to win, secure the country, and allow it to build.

The US will approach the limit of the number of forces it can deploy and sustain if it carries out its current reinforcement plans. NATO/ISAF forces may increase slightly, but will remain a diverse mix of forces from some 41 countries divided by national caveats and restrictions on their use. Any effective counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan must rely building up strong Afghan security forces, and the use them to both defeat the enemy and create the level of security that is a critical prerequisite for governance and development.

Finding the right path to such force development will be one of the most critical single decisions the new Obama Administration will make in trying to reverse the course of a war that is now being lost. Accordingly, the Burke Chair has developed a revised analysis detailing the continued development of the Afghan National Security Forces, the historic challenges they have faced, their strengths and weaknesses, and the problems and prospects of future force development.
The updated study, entitled