December 07, 2010

New CNAS Report Offers Strategy for Securing U.S. Interests in Afghanistan Beyond 2011

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released today a new report on U.S. Afghanistan strategy authored by CNAS Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.), former commander of U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan; and Fellow Andrew Exum, a former Army Ranger and civilian advisor to General Stanley McChrystal.

In Responsible Transition: Securing U.S. Interests in Afghanistan Beyond 2011, the authors lay out a strategy for the post-July 2011 phase of the war, define the U.S. troop presence and commitment beyond 2014, and offer operational and strategic guidance for protecting U.S. and allied long-term interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Responsible Transition, Barno and Exum provide policy recommendations - military and political - for how the United States and its NATO allies can get from summer 2011, when U.S. and coalition troops begin to draw down in Afghanistan, to 2014, when U.S. forces transition to a residual force and transfer full leadership of operations to Afghan security forces. Barno and Exum also consider "spoilers," or disruptive events, that could affect the success of any plan, including: a terror attack on U.S. soil originating in Pakistan; an adversarial Pakistan; a resurgent Taliban; and Afghan National Security Forces failure. Key recommendations include:

• The United States and its allies should commit to a long-term presence in Afghanistan to safeguard vital interests beyond 2014.
• The United States and its allies should begin a phased transition, starting in July 2011, from a large-scale mission employing in excess of 140,000 troops to a residual force of 25,000-35,000 troops.
• United States troop presence beyond 2014 would be a residual force fully reorganized into an unconventional warfare task force (UWTF) that would guide military and counterterrorism operations. 
• The United States and its allies should shift their direct investment in the government of Afghanistan away from Kabul and toward local governance.
• The United States should use greater political, military and economic leverage over its allies in Pakistan to drive more aggressive action against violent extremist organizations in the region.

Responsible Transition will be publicly launched Tuesday, December 14, 2010, from 1:30-2:45 p.m. at an event featuring the report’s authors and Bob Woodward, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author of Obama’s Wars. RSVP for the event here.

Download the PDF version of the report here.