WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2009 - In providing additional military forces for the Afghanistan war, the Obama administration has demonstrated that Afghanistan is no longer an economy-of-force campaign. But a troop surge alone is not enough to win the war. In orthodox counterinsurgency theory, providing essential services and strengthening governance are as important as fighting the enemy with guns and bullets.
In a new policy brief published by CNAS, authors John Nagl, Andrew Exum, and Ahmed Humayun recommend that the United States increase its support for Afghanistan's National Solidarity Program (NSP) and similar development initiatives. Launched in 2002 by Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), the NSP is a rural development project that disburses modest grants to elected village councils. The NSP has not just simply provided tangible services to Afghans; it is "owned" by Afghans and run with an emphasis on transparency. The NSP is one of the few initiatives from Kabul to have generated significant goodwill among rural communities. Increasing U.S. funding for programs like the NSP can strategically leverage all instruments of American national power instead of relying on military force alone. Accordingly, this policy brief describes the structure of the NSP, its achievements, explains the underlying reasons for its success, and proposes a course by which the United States can help sustain and expand the program moving forward.
Download the five page policy brief and listen to a videocast by CNAS fellow Andrew Exum on our website here.
The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is an independent and nonpartisan research institution that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies that promote and protect American interests and values. CNAS leads efforts to help inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow.