With a 2014 transition looming in Afghanistan, U.S. and allied military leaders must recognize that U.S. and coalition forces will not defeat the Taliban and its allies in the next three years. "The Next Fight: Time for a Change of Mission in Afghanistan," a report authored by Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.), Dr. Andrew Exum and Matthew Irvine, calls for a change of mission in Afghanistan and offers policy recommendations for the Obama Administration, the ISAF/U.S. Forces Commander, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and the U.S. Special Operations Command.
The authors write, "U.S. and coalition forces must shift away from directly conducting counterinsurgency operations and move toward a new mission of "security force assistance:" advising and enabling Afghan forces to take the lead in the counterinsurgency fight." They conclude that by continuing to place its forces in the lead in counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, the United States is ultimately working against its long-term security interests. Because U.S. units can execute counterinsurgency operations better and faster than their Afghan counterparts, they are continuing to do so despite the looming transition. Afghan forces must move more rapidly to take the lead in Afghanistan while the United States and its coalition allies still have significant numbers of troops and enablers in the country. U.S. commanders need to assume greater risk in the near-term if the Afghan forces are to succeed in this task.
More from CNAS
CommentaryA fresh approach to peace in Afghanistan
An effective peace process is possible and desirable in Afghanistan. Success, however, will require a careful, step-by-step course to test bona fides, build confidence, reduce...
By Earl Anthony Wayne & Christopher D. Kolenda
CommentaryTrump was right to abandon the Taliban peace deal. Here’s what a good one would look like.
Two months after President Trump declared U.S.-Taliban peace talks “dead,” diplomacy with the Afghan insurgents is reviving. With the administration already having negotiated ...
By David H. Petraeus & Vance Serchuk
CommentaryThe U.S. Military is Not, and Can Never Be, Afghanistan’s Police
In 1829, the father of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel, established “Peel’s Principles” to describe the role of police at large. Almost 200 years later, policing has changed ...
By COL Sarah Albrycht
PodcastEnding the war in Afghanistan
Christopher D. Kolenda joins The World and Everything in It to discuss the latest developments in talks between the United States and the Taliban. Listen to the full conversa...
By Christopher D. Kolenda