Afghanistan may again become a safe haven for the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Taliban factions have markedly increased the pace of operations throughout Afghanistan following the September 28 offensive against Kunduz city. The increased tempo of Taliban operations is partly a demonstration of power by Mullah Akhtar Mansour aimed at silencing dissident commanders, as he confirmed in an October 2 interview.
Taliban elements and other militant groups are conducting operations across Afghanistan, including spectacular attacks against major population centers and U.S. bases.
The White House is dropping strong hints that the number of American troops in Afghanistan after 2014 may fall below 10,000, possibly even below 5,000. Unnamed White House officials suggested to the press that lower levels of U.S. support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be sufficient to contain future Taliban threats.
The Afghanistan ORBAT describes the location and area of responsibility of all American units in Afghanistan, down to the battalion level, updated as of April 2014.
Will the United States continue to conduct counterterrorism operations in South Asia? That question is central to any discussion about U.S. troop presence and mission in Afghanistan.
Afghan history suggests that any stable political accommodation after 2014 will be contingent upon incorporating Jamiat-e Islami. The engagement of key Jamiat-e Islami politicians will be critical to a smooth regime transition in Afghanistan post-Karzai.
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The Afghanistan Project at the Institute for the Study of War produces detailed publications on the changing security and political dynamics in Afghanistan. Research analysts document the pattern of enemy activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan; military operations by Coalition and Afghan forces; the implications of the drawdown of Surge forces; and the political, economic, and demographic dynamics underlying the conflict.
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The fall of Kunduz to Taliban militants on September 28 is a significant blow to the ability of ANSF forces to retain control throughout the country. It is the first provincial capital to be seized by Taliban forces for any length of time, and the withdrawal of the ANSF from the city portends difficulty in retaking the city. Kunduz province, which shares a border with Tajikistan, is now primarily controlled by Taliban militants.
ISW in the News
Partnership can indeed be a component of an effective strategy for countering terrorism. But partnership requires effective partners. This missing ingredient in Mr. Obama’s strategy will be its downfall.
If America's experience in Iraq offers any single, unambiguous lesson, it is the folly of just walking away. The United States must not repeat this mistake in Afghanistan. Isolation and disengagement have severely damaged American credibility and security, as can be seen most dramatically in Ukraine today.