This is a collection of work ASP has published on the war in Afghanistan. From examining the strategic foundation of the war to measuring its progress, ASP has presented the war in new ways supported by data and analysis, rather than posturing or optimism.
When President Obama first announced the surge of troops in 2009, many defense analysts believed the infusion of troops would blunt the Taliban’s progress and provide space for the Afghan government to assert its rule (the Afghan surge was designed and implemented by many of the same analysts and advisers who designed and implemented the Iraqi surge of 2007). But rather than clearing political space for a besieged government, instead the surge concentrated forces in Helmand province, an isolated backwater of no strategic value. Moreover, the extra troops were not assigned the task of actually defeating the insurgency, but instead were given vaguely worded aspirations to “outgovern” the Taliban by building schools, roads, and hospitals.
September 21 marks the end of the Afghan surge. While Helmand province has improved in the last three years, much of the country remains the same as it did beforehand: the Afghan government was not supported, the insurgency was not defeated, and now US forces are on a long, slow glide to withdrawal.
ASP’s research, grounded in empiricism and data and devoid of partisan interest, explains the long-term changes of the war in clear, level-headed language.