May 25, 2011

Beyond Afghanistan: A Regional Security Strategy for South and Central Asia

The United States is at a strategic inflection point in South and Central Asia. The death of Osama bin Laden, together with the projected transition to a smaller U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, presents a new opportunity for the United States to protect its enduring interests in the region. In Beyond Afghanistan: A Regional Security Strategy for South and Central Asia, CNAS authors Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.), Andrew Exum and Matthew Irvine identify key priorities for the United States and the key components of a regional strategy in light of fast-changing current events.

This report culminates a year-long project examining the future of U.S. strategy in South and Central Asia given the pending drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Barno, Exum and Irvine examine U.S. relationships with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, and offer immediate and long-term policy recommendations for protecting U.S. interests in the region including:

  • Negotiate a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the government of Afghanistan.
  • Develop a long-term but differentiated approach to Pakistan that strengthens its economy, civilian government and anti-extremist elements while pressuring factions that support terrorists.
  • Reshape foreign and security assistance to Pakistan.
  • Broker confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan quietly and as opportunities arise.
  • Sustain and deepen a multidimensional U.S.-India relationship and encourage the peaceful rise of China.
  • Promote open trade and transit across South and Central Asia to catalyze economic growth and enhance stability.
  • Develop a strategic public engagement plan for the region to mitigate the effects of the intense anti-Americanism that preclude greater cooperation with the United States.


  • Andrew M. Exum

  • Matthew Irvine

  • David W. Barno

  • USA (Ret.)