Gayle Tzemach Lemmon questions whether America’s post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will retake center stage with the potential appointment of a military leader to secretary of defense. According to Lemmon, “If confirmed, Mattis…would force Americans to confront these conflicts at a time when the United States has done a good job forgetting to feel like a country at war.”
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon highlights the need for renewed attention on the war in Afghanistan. Nearly 10,000 U.S. troops remain in the country and U.S. casualties are close to 2,300, but little about Afghanistan has made headlines in recent years or received mention by political leaders.
What used to be known as the Global War on Terrorism seems to be lurching from one defeat after another. In the Middle East, ISIS has taken control of cities from Palmyra to Mosul. Libya and Yemen and Syria and large swathes of Iraq have no effective governance, leaving their territory to be fought over between competing terrorist groups.
For the past several years, the Obama administration’s strategy for Afghanistan has rested on the basic assumption that although no reasonable amount of U.S. money or troops could win the war against the Taliban outright, a limited American commitment to Afghanistan’s security forces and government would enable Kabul to hold on long enough to reach a negotiated truce with insurgent leaders.
On December 31, 2014, the NATO mission in Afghanistan was replaced by a non-combat mission for training and advising the Afghanistan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) and Afghan security ministries. This report from the U.S. Department of Defense, prepared in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act 2015, describes the progress of the ANDSF and how the United States is providing support. See also previous reports on "Progress toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan."
Did you know that private contractors in Afghanistan outnumber U.S. troops three to one? Micah Zenko examines the extensive role of private contractors in military operations abroad that U.S. policymakers fail to acknowledge.
New YorkTimesbest seller, Ashley's War, by CFR Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, gives an inside look at the first-ever all-female, all-Army team to serve on the battlefield alongside Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan—despite the official ban on women in ground-combat units.
As the international troop presence in Afghanistan shrinks, the United States and India have a shared interest in a stable future for Afghanistan. CFR Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia Alyssa Ayres writes that the United States should encourage Indian support for Afghanistan in areas of Indian expertise: democracy, economics, and civilian security.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »