International forces in Afghanistan are preparing to hand over responsibility for security to Afghan soldiers and police by the end of 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama has argued that battlefield successes since 2009 have enabled this transition and that with it, "this long war will come to a responsible end."
In the next military budget Congress must provide funding for a wholesale shift toward counterinsurgency to win two wars. At the same time, policymakers must be mindful of the need for another transformation to anticipate future wars.
President Obama's first National Security Strategy departs from Bush administration doctrine by redefining the war against terror groups and embracing multilateralism, and may expect too much from global partners, say CFR experts in an analytical roundup.
President Obama should have used his speech on the Afghanistan troop drawdown to confirm the long-term commitment of U.S. forces in the region, to signal an enduring, robust U.S. presence in troubled South Asia, says CFR's Stephen Biddle.
While U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan won't be directly affected, bin Laden's death could result in an expedited draw-down schedule, leaving the country open to a Taliban takeover and leading to upheaval in Pakistan, says CFR's Stephen Biddle.
The Taliban needs to be convinced of a firm U.S. commitment in Afghanistan before it will negotiate a settlement, says CFR's Stephen Biddle, and any deal will have to also involve the Pakistani, U.S., and Afghan governments.
Crucial to the success of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is dealing with the country's "predatory misgovernance," says CFR's Stephen Biddle. Targeting U.S. contracting practices is a good place to start, he says.
While senior military officials are urging support for Afghanistan operations, Afghans are fearful about the Kandahar offensive and uncertain about U.S. plans to start withdrawing troops in July 2011, says CFR's Stephen Biddle.
After months of harsh words, the White House's conciliatory tone during the Afghan president's visit was calibrated to encourage Karzai to behave more like a "wartime leader and less like an innocent bystander," says CFR's Stephen Biddle.
Two key issues in Afghanistan are whether President Hamid Karzai will implement reforms and whether the American public is willing to invest the time it will take for a successful counterinsurgency, says CFR defense expert Stephen Biddle.
CFR's top defense policy expert Stephen Biddle says President Obama's announcement of a date for U.S. forces to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan could draw fire from wary Democrats, but also conveys that the U.S. "is uncomfortable with long stays."
As military planners review strategy in the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan, CFR Senior Fellow Stephen Biddle says victory will be dependent on improving the capacity of the beleaguered Afghan government.
CFR's Stephen Biddle says President Obama's decision to add four thousand troops to train Afghan troops is "a reasonable first step" but that Obama faces huge challenges in standing up a viable Afghan army.
Stephen Biddle, a senior defense and counterterrorism analyst, says that President Obama's schedule for reducing and then ending the U.S. deployment in Iraq "is a reasonable compromise between several conflicting demands."