The Lessons of Afghanistan

War Fighting, Intelligence, and Force Transformation

This study seeks to provide an initial assessment of the war in Afghanistan and the lessons to be drawn in terms of war fighting, intelligence, and force transformation. The Afghan conflict is anything but a conventional war--it is asymmetric warfare fought by different sides with different goals and perceptions using radically different methods and fought as a theater battle in a broader global struggle against terrorism. Asymmetric wars tend to be highly adaptive, and this war is both regional and global in scope. It is also a struggle fought in a context where it interacts with other conflicts such as the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian struggle and the U.S. effort to drive Saddam Hussein from power. So, while it is easier to draw lessons than to validate them, this study begins that process.

Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS and is a national security analyst for ABC News.