Winning in Afghanistan
May 27, 2009
This up-to-date analysis describes in detail the continued development of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF): the historic challenges—and missed opportunities—they have faced, their strengths and weaknesses, and the prospects for future force development. The report examines the progress ANSF forces are making in the broader context of the ideological, civil, military, and economic conflict that affects both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it explains how the lack of troops and effective local training programs have made it possible for the Taliban, Hekmatyer, and Haqqani networks to gain strength and expand their capabilities.
Both the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) must improve dramatically in size and capability before they can take the lead in Afghan security. The report details what improvements in force size and quality are realistic in the near term as well as what challenges stand in the way of the proposed near-doubling of the size of the ANSF. The logistical, financial, and training challenges of making ANA units capable of operating independently receive particular emphasis.
The United States, say the authors, is the only country with the resources to change this situation. For more than half a decade, however, it has failed to do so by not providing the money, mentors, and training personnel or the kind of partners in the field necessary to create the scale and quality of Afghan forces needed. If the Obama administration does not act quickly and decisively to reverse this situation, Afghanistan, NATO/ISAF, and the United States may well lose this war.