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.