May 27, 2014

CNAS Scholars React to Keeping 9,800 Troops in Afghanistan

Five experts at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) offer analysis and commentary on President Obama's announcement to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan. Below are links to each expert's biography as well as recent posts on the topic.


EXPERT: Richard Fontaine is the president of CNAS and previously served as the foreign policy advisor to Senator John McCain for more than five years.

Afghanistan Announcement is One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

“It is clear today that the Afghan national security forces are not yet fully capable of handling the array of security challenges facing their country, and an enduring component of nearly 10,000 American troops – supplemented by diplomats, intelligence personnel and contractors – can go a long way toward helping those forces succeed.”


EXPERT: LTG David Barno, USA (Ret.) is a senior fellow and co-director of the Responsible Defense Program at CNAS and the former commander of all U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan from 2003-2005.

President's Announcement is Mixed News at Best

“Much like the President Obama’s 'Afghan surge' announcement in December 2009, this latest decision on Afghanistan tries to have it both ways: it provides roughly the number of troops requested by the military up front, but at the same time announces a steep and rapid drawdown plan to pull virtually all of those troops out over the next two years.” 


EXPERT: Shawn Brimley is the executive vice president and director of studies at CNAS and the former director for strategic planning on the National Security Council staff at the White House.

Slow but Steady in Afghanistan and Beyond

“Correctly navigating the final phase of U.S. engagement with Afghanistan will be a powerful factor in strengthening political will behind a strong and steady U.S. leadership role around the world.”


EXPERT: Dr. Nora Bensahel is a senior fellow and co-director of the Responsible Defense Program at CNAS and the co-author of Sustainable Pre-eminence: Reforming the U.S. Military at a Time of Strategic Change. She is also an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.

A Slower Zero Option

“U.S. troops will now be able to continue training and counter terrorism missions in Afghanistan for two more years, rather than having to withdraw by this December.”


EXPERT: Julie Smith is a senior fellow and director of the Strategy and Statecraft Program at CNAS and formerly served as the deputy national security advisor to the vice president of the United States. 

Three Questions for NATO on Pres. Obama's Plan for Afghanistan

“With the final U.S. number now established, NATO allies are expected to provide a modest presence of an additional 3,000 to 5,000 troops. But the United States' decision today raises three questions for NATO moving forward.”


Please contact Liz Fontaine for all media inquiries at or 202.457.9423; or JaRel Clay at or 202.457.9410.