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Security policy and force capacity building.

Although the formal Obama Administration policy is to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for global terrorism, the U.S. definition of "success" of the stabilization mission in Afghanistan is to help build up an Afghan government and security force that can defend itself, expand governance, and develop economically. As discussed below, the Obama Administration has not significantly changed the basic pillars of U.S. and NATO security strategy that have been in place since 2001, although the blend of these components often shifts as outcomes and prospects of various initiatives are evaluated. Since the effort began in 2001, the primary U.S.-led activities have included: (1) combat operations by U.S. forces and a NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to "provide space" for the expansion of Afghan governance, security leadership, and economic development; (2) U.S. and NATO operation of "provincial reconstruction teams" (PRTs) to serve as enclaves to facilitate the strategy; and (3) the equipping, training, and expansion of Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF).

Who are U.S./NATO Forces Fighting? Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Related Insurgents and Their Strength

As noted in the Defense Department reports and statements, security is being challenged by a confluence of related armed groups who are increasingly well equipped and sophisticated in their tactics and operations, particularly by using roadside bombs. (23) There has not been agreement about the relative strength of insurgents in all of the areas where they operate, or their degree of cooperation with each other,. Press reports in December 2010, quoting U.S. military officers in Afghanistan, said there has been increasing operational cooperation among the various insurgent groups. Afghan and U.S. assessments are that there are more than 20,000 total insurgents operating in Afghanistan, up from a few thousand in 2003.

Prior to U.S.-led offensives launched since mid-2009, the Karzai government was estimated by to control about 30% of the country, while insurgents controlled 4% (13 out of 364 districts). Insurgents "influenced" or "operated in" another 30% (Afghan Interior Ministry estimates in August 2009). Tribes and local groups with varying degrees of loyalty to the central government control the remainder. Some outside groups report higher percentages of insurgent control or influence. (24) U.S. military officers in Kabul told CRS in October 2009 that the Taliban had named "shadow governors" in 33 out of 34 of Afghanistan's provinces, although many provinces in northern Afghanistan were assessed as having minimal Taliban presence.

As far as tactics, U.S. commanders increasingly worry about growing insurgent use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including roadside bombs. IED's are the leading cause of U.S. combat deaths, although the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, a part of DOD, reported in February 2011 substantial progress finding IED's before they explode. In January 2010, President Karzai issued a decree banning importation of fertilizer chemicals (ammonium nitrate) commonly used for the roadside bombs, but there reportedly is informal circumvention of the ban for certain civilian uses, and the material reportedly still comes into Afghanistan from Pakistan. U.S. commanders have said they have verified some insurgent use of surface-to-air missiles. (25)

There were about 310 U.S. soldiers killed in 2009, nearly double the previous year, and U.S. deaths in 2010 reached a new high for the Afghan conflict of just over 500. There were about 210 soldiers from partner countries killed during 2010. According to a UNAMA report issued in December 2010, covering the fall of 2010, there was a 66% increase in security incidents as compared to the same period in 2009. However, over 80% of those deaths are purportedly caused by insurgent attacks, and criticizing insurgents--and not NATO or other coalition elements--for attacks that kill civilians, is an increasing feature of U.N. and human rights organizations.

Groups: The Taliban ("Quetta Shura Taliban")

The core of the insurgency remains the Taliban movement centered around Mullah Umar, who led the Taliban regime during 1996-2001. Mullah Umar and many of his top advisers remain at large and are reportedly running their insurgency from their safe haven in Pakistan. They are believed to be primarily in and around the city of Quetta, according to Afghan officials, thus accounting for the term usually applied to Umar and his aides: "Quetta Shura Taliban" (QST). Some believe that Umar and his inner circle blame their past association with Al Qaeda for their loss of power and want to distance themselves from Al Qaeda. Other experts see continuing close association that is likely to continue were the Taliban movement to return to power.

Some believe that the U.S. "surge" in Afghanistan may be Taliban leaders to mull the concept of a political settlement. Umar's top deputy, Mullah Bradar, was arrested in a reported joint U.S.-Pakistani operation near the city of Karachi in February 2010--Karzai considered his capture set back Afghan government-Taliban reconciliation talks, which Bradar reportedly supports. In recent years, other top Taliban figures, including Mullah Dadullah, his son Mansoor, and Mullah Usmani have been killed or captured. Some observers say that informal settlement ideas floated between the Taliban and the Karzai government may envision Umar being granted exile in Saudi Arabia. Two other purported members of the Quetta Shura, Mullah Hassan Rahmani, former Taliban governor of Qandahar, and Mullah Afghan Tayib, another spokesman, are said to have come under some Pakistani pressure to refrain from militant activities.

To address losses, Umar reportedly has replaced Bradar with younger and reputedly hardline, anti-compromise leaders Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, a U.S. detainee in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba until 2007, and Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, a logistics expert. (26) The Taliban has several official spokespersons still at large, including Qari Yusuf Ahmadi and Zabiullah Mujahid, and it operates a clandestine radio station, "Voice of Shariat" and publishes videos.

Al Qaeda/Bin Laden Whereabouts

The summary of an Administration policy review, released December 16, 2010, says that "there has been significant progress in disrupting and dismantling the Pakistan-based leadership and cadre of Al Qaeda over the past year." U.S. commanders say that Al Qaeda militants are more facilitators of militant incursions into Afghanistan rather than active fighters in the Afghan insurgency. Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta said on June 27, 2010, that Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan itself might number 50-100. (27) Contradicting those comments to some extent, NATO/ISAF officials said in October 2010, that Al Qaeda cells may be moving back into remote areas of Kunar and Nuristan provinces, (28) particularly in areas vacated by U.S.-led forces. Press reports in April 2011 added that some Al Qaeda training camps may have been established inside Afghanistan, but Gen. Petraeus tried to refute these stories on April 10 by saying that the Al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan remains small at "less than 100 or so." Some of the Al Qaeda fighters are believed to belong to Al Qaeda affiliates such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

Despite the reports of progress against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al Qaeda's top leadership has consistently eluded U.S. efforts. In December 2001, in the course of the post-September 11 major combat effort, U.S. Special Operations Forces and CIA operatives reportedly narrowed Osama bin Laden's location to the Tora Bora mountains in Nangarhar Province (30 miles west of the Khyber Pass), but the Afghan militia fighters who were the bulk of the fighting force did not prevent his escape. Some U.S. military and intelligence officers (such as Gary Berntsen and Dalton Fury, who have written books on the battle) have questioned the U.S. decision to rely mainly on Afghan forces in this engagement.

Amid debate over the potential operational significance of capturing or killing bin Laden, he and his close ally Ayman al-Zawahiri have long been presumed to be on the Pakistani side of the border. CNN reported October 18, 2010, that assessments from the U.S.-led coalition now say the two are likely in a settled area near the border with Afghanistan, and not living in a very remote uninhabited area. A U.S. strike reportedly missed Zawahiri by a few hours in the village of Damadola, Pakistan, in January 2006, suggesting that there was intelligence on his movements. (29) On the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, some U.S. observers said it was still significant to try to capture bin Laden if for no other reason than for symbolic value.

Among other bin Laden aides, press reports in September 2010 said that Al Qaeda's former spokesman, Kuwait-born Sulayman Abu Ghaith, may have been released from house arrest by Iran and allowed to proceed to Pakistan. Other reports in November 2010 said that another Al Qaeda senior operative, Sayf al Adl, who was believed to be in Iran during 2002-2010, may have left Iran and gone to Pakistan, and reportedly may have been elevated by bin Laden to top Al Qaeda operational commander.

As a consequence of other U.S. efforts, a January 2008 strike near Damadola killed Abu Laith al-Libi, a reported senior Al Qaeda figure who purportedly masterminded, among other operations, the bombing at Bagram Air Base in February 2007 when Vice President Cheney was visiting. In August 2008, an airstrike was confirmed to have killed Al Qaeda chemical weapons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, and two senior operatives allegedly involved in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa reportedly were killed by an unmanned aerial vehicle (Predator) strike in January 2009. Such aerial-based strikes have become more frequent under President Obama, indicating that the Administration sees the tactic as effective in preventing attacks. Unmanned vehicle strikes are also increasingly used on the Afghanistan battlefield itself and against Al Qaeda affiliated militants in such countries as Yemen.

Hikmatyar Faction

Another "high value target" identified by U.S. commanders is the faction of former mujahedin party leader Gulbuddin Hikmatyar (Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, HIG) allied with Al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents. As noted above, Hikmatyar was one of the main U.S.-backed mujahedin leaders during the Soviet occupation era. Hikmatyar's faction received extensive U.S. support against the Soviet Union, but is now active against U.S. and Afghan forces in Kunar, Nuristan, Kapisa, and Nangarhar provinces, north and east of Kabul. On February 19, 2003, the U.S. government formally designated Hikmatyar as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist," under the authority of Executive Order 13224, subjecting it to financial and other U.S. sanctions. It is not designated as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization" (FTO).

While U.S. commanders continue to battle Hikmatyar's militia, on March 22, 2010, both the Afghan government and Hikmatyar representatives confirmed they were in talks in Kabul, including meetings with Karzai. Hikmatyar has expressed a willingness to discuss a cease-fire with the Karzai government since 2007, and several of Karzai's key allies in the National Assembly are members of a moderate wing of Hikmatyar's party. The newly selected speaker of the lower house, Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, is said to be a member of this group. In January 2010, Hikmatyar outlined specific conditions for a possible reconciliation with Karzai, including elections under a neutral caretaker government following a U.S. withdrawal. Some close to Hikmatyar apparently attended the consultative peace loya jirga on June 2-4, 2010, which discussed the reconciliation issue, as analyzed further below.

Haqqani Faction

Another militant faction, cited repeatedly as a major threat, is the "Haqqani Network" led by Jalaludin Haqqani and his eldest son, Siraj (or Sirajjudin). Jalaludin Haqqani, who served as Minister of Tribal Affairs in the Taliban regime of 1996-2001, is believed closer to Al Qaeda than to the ousted Taliban leadership in part because one of his wives is purportedly Arab. The group is active around its key objective, Khost city, capital of Khost Province. The Haqqani network has claimed responsibility for attacks on India's embassy in Kabul and other India-related targets.

U.S. officials say they are continuing to pressure the Haqqani network with military action in Afghanistan and air strikes on the Pakistani side of the border. Siraj's brother, Mohammad, was reportedly killed by a U.S. unmanned vehicle strike in late February 2010, although Mohammad was not thought to be a key militant commander. Pakistan reportedly arrested a minor family member (Nasruddin Haqqani) in December 2010--a possible indication that Pakistan senses U.S. pressure for increased action against the network. However, some doubt has been cast that an arrest took place. The Haqqani network is said to be a major driver of the reported debate within the Obama Administration over whether to authorize additional Special Operations raids across the border into Pakistan, and presumably against the Haqqani network. (30)

Among other potential steps, in July 2010, it was reported that General Petraeus, as part of his adjustments to policy as top commander in Afghanistan, wanted the Haqqani network to be named as an FTO under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. Such a move would be intended to signal to Pakistan that it should not see the Haqqani network, as a whole, as part of a reconciled political structure in Afghanistan that would protect Pakistan's interests and work to limit the influence of India. (31) The Haqqani faction has been thought not amenable to a political settlement, although some experts question that assessment. Table 7 contains estimated numbers of Haqqani fighters.

Pakistani Groups

The Taliban of Afghanistan are increasingly linked politically and operationally to Pakistani Taliban militants. The Pakistani groups might see a Taliban recapture of Afghanistan's government as helpful to the prospects for these groups inside Pakistan or in their Kashmir struggle. A major Pakistani group, the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP), is primarily seeking to challenge the government of Pakistan, but they facilitate the transiting into Afghanistan of Afghan Taliban and support the Afghan Taliban goals of recapturing Afghanistan. The TTP may also be seeking to target the United States, an assessment based on a failed bombing in New York City in May 2010. The State Department designated the TTP as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Naturalization Act on September 2, 2010, allegedly for having close connections to Al Qaeda.

Another Pakistani group said to be increasingly active inside Afghanistan is Laskhar-e-Tayyiba (LET, or Army of the Righteous). LET is an Islamist militant group that has previously been focused on operations against Indian control of Kashmir.

The U.S.-Led Military Effort: 2001-2008

To combat the insurgency, in partnership with 49 other countries and the Afghan government and security forces (see Table 24), there are nearly 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as of March 2011. The vast majority operate under NATO/ISAF command, but about 10,000 of them are part of the post-September 11 anti-terrorism mission Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Serving under the top U.S. and NATO/ISAF commander General Petraeus is Major General David Rodriguez, who heads a NATO-approved "Intermediate Joint Command" focused primarily on day-to-day operations. He has been in this position since mid-2009. Press reports appeared in February 2011 indicating that General Petraeus might leave the command at the end of 2011.

Many of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan are in eastern Afghanistan and lead Regional Command East of the NATO/ISAF operation. These U.S. forces belong to Combined Joint Task Force 101 (as of June 2010), which is commanded by Major General John Campbell. The most restive provinces in RC-E are Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kunar, and Nuristan. Helmand, Qandahar, Uruzgan, Zabol, Nimruz, and Dai Kundi provinces constitute "Regional Command South (RCS)," a command formally transferred to NATO/ISAF responsibility on July 31, 2006. U.S. forces have not led RC-S; the command was rotated among Britain, the Netherlands, and Canada. The growing U.S. troop strength in RC-S prompted a May 23, 2010, NATO decision to bifurcate RCS, with the United States leading a "southwest" subdivision for Helmand and Nimruz.

Perception of "Victory" in the First Five Post-Taliban Years

During 2001-mid-2006, U.S. forces and Afghan troops fought relatively low levels of insurgent violence. The United States and Afghanistan conducted "Operation Mountain Viper" (August 2003); "Operation Avalanche" (December 2003); "Operation Mountain Storm" (March-July 2004) against Taliban remnants in and around Uruzgan province, home province of Mullah Umar; "Operation Lightning Freedom" (December 2004-February 2005); and "Operation Pil" (Elephant) in Kunar Province in the east (October 2005). By late 2005, U.S. and partner commanders appeared to believe that the combat, coupled with overall political and economic reconstruction, had virtually ended any insurgency. Anticipating further stabilization, NATO/ISAF assumed lead responsibility for security in all of Afghanistan during 2005-2006.

Contrary to U.S. expectations, violence increased significantly in mid-2006, particularly in the east and the south, where ethnic Pashtuns predominate. Reasons for the deterioration include some of those discussed above in the sections on governance: Afghan government corruption; the absence of governance or security forces in many rural areas. Other factors included the safe haven enjoyed by militants in Pakistan; the reticence of some NATO contributors to actively combat insurgents; a popular backlash against civilian casualties caused by NATO and U.S. military operations; and the slow pace of economic development. Many Afghans are said to have turned to the Taliban as a source of impartial and rapid justice, in contrast to the slow and corrupt processes instituted by the central government.

Perception of Deterioration and Growing Force Levels in 2007 and 2008

Since 2006, and particularly during 2010, the key theater of implementation of U.S. strategy has been eastern and southern Afghanistan, especially Helmand and Qandahar provinces. NATO counter-offensives during 2006-2008--such as Operation Mountain Lion, Operation Mountain Thrust, and Operation Medusa (August-September 2006, in Panjwai district of Qandahar Province)--cleared key districts but did not prevent subsequent reinfiltration because Afghan governance was not established in cleared areas. In late 2006, British forces--who believe in negotiated local solutions--entered into an agreement with tribal elders in the Musa Qala district of Helmand Province, under which they would secure the main town of the district themselves. That strategy failed when the Taliban took over Musa Qala town in February 2007, but a NATO offensive in December 2007 retook it.

As a further response, NATO and OEF forces tried to apply a more integrated strategy involving preemptive combat and increased development work. Major combat operations in 2007 included U.S. and NATO attempted preemption of an anticipated Taliban "spring offensive" ("Operation Achilles," March 2007) in the Sangin district of Helmand Province, around the Kajaki dam, and Operation Silicon (May 2007), also in Helmand. (In September 2010, Britain turned over security leadership in Sangin to U.S. forces. The district produced half of Britain's entire casualties in Afghanistan to date.)

Despite the additional resources put into Afghanistan, throughout 2008, growing concern took hold within the Bush Administration. Pessimism was reflected in such statements as a September 2008 comment by Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen that "I'm not sure we're winning" in Afghanistan. Several major incidents supported that assessment, including (1) expanding Taliban operations in provinces where it had not previously been active, particularly Lowgar, Wardak, and Kapisa, close to Kabul; (2) high-profile attacks in Kabul against well-defended targets, such as the January 14, 2008, attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul and the July 7, 2008, suicide bombing at the Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing more than 50; (3) the April 27, 2008, assassination attempt on Karzai during a military parade celebrating the ouster of the Soviet Union; and (4) a June 12, 2008, Sarposa prison break in Qandahar (several hundred Taliban captives were freed, as part of an emptying of the 1,200 inmates there).

To try to arrest deterioration, the United States and its partners decided to increase force levels. The added forces partly fulfilled a mid-2008 request by General McKiernan for 30,000 additional U.S. troops (beyond the approximately 35,000 there at the time of the request). However, as the November 2008 U.S. presidential election approached, the decision whether to fulfill the entire request was deferred to the next Administration. U.S. troop levels started 2006 at 30,000; climbed slightly to 32,000 by December 2008; and reached 39,000 by April 2009 (shortly after President Obama took office). Partner forces were increased significantly as well, by about 6,000 during this time, to a total of 39,000 at the end of 2009 (rough parity between U.S. and non-U.S. forces). Many of the U.S. forces deployed in 2008 and 2009 were Marines that deployed to Helmand, large parts of which had fallen out of coalition/Afghan control.

Other Policy Components: Building Afghan Forces

Since the Taliban were ousted from power, a key tenet of U.S. and NATO policy--and the key to their "exit strategy" from Afghanistan - has been to build capable Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), consisting of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Policy (ANP). Although the ANSF has expanded considerably since 2002, it has been considered a struggle to bring these forces to a level of capability that would allow for a transition from international forces in securing Afghanistan. Obama Administration strategy emphasizes expanding the ANSF and improving it through partnering and more intense mentoring and training--about 70% of Afghan units are now partnered with international forces.

On January 21, 2010, the joint U.N.-Afghan "Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board" (JCMB) agreed that, by the end of 2011, the ANA would expand to 171,600 and the ANP to about 134,000. As of August 11, 2010, both forces reached their interim size of 134,000 and 109,000 respectively (two months earlier than planned). As of April 2011, the forces total about 150,000 ANA and 120,000 ANP, and Defense Minister Wardak said on February 25, 2011, that the forces would reach their 171,600 and 134,000 established target sizes ahead of the end of 2011 date.

A Petraeus recommendation to raise the target level for both forces to 378,000 (from 305,600) was to be put to the JCMB in January 2011, but U.S. and partner country concerns about the Afghan ability to sustain so large a force put the plan on hold. However, U.S. commanders said in March 2011 that they expect the expansion to be approved in the near future. While holding to his recommendation for the 78,000 increase, Gen. Petraeus testified on March 15 and 16, 2011, that he considers the ANSF to need a minimum of 44,000 more authorized forces than the current target. This would put his minimum recommended total at about 360,000.

U.S. forces along with partner countries and contractors, train the ANSF. In February 2010, the U.S.-run "Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan" (CSTC-A) that ran the training was subordinated to the broader NATO Training Mission--Afghanistan (NTM-A). NTM-A is commanded by U.S. Major General William Caldwell. CSTC-A's mission was reoriented to building the capacity of the Afghan Defense and Interior Ministries, and to provide resources to the ANSF. The total number of required trainers (U.S. and partner) for these institutions is 4,750. The unfilled gap of trainers totaling about 750 was discussed in the section on Alliances above. Particular attention has been called to the need for 290 police trainers to staff five new police training centers scheduled to open in 2011. (32) A separate France-led 300-person European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) has been established to train Afghan forces out in the provinces. The European Union is providing a 190-member "EUPOL" training effort, and 60 other experts to help train the ANP. These efforts are subsumed under NTM-A.

A core element of NATO's training efforts are its mentoring teams--known as Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams (OMLTs) and Police Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (POMLTs). While NTM-A focuses on building institutional capacity in the ANSF and on training initial recruits, OMLTs and POMLTs are responsible for training and mentoring deployed ANSF units. OMLTs, which operate with the Afghan National Army (ANA), consist of 11-28 personnel from one or several countries. As of October 2010, there were 150 OMLTs operating in Afghanistan; 76 were staffed by the United States. (33) POMLTs, which teach and mentor the Afghan National Police (ANP), are composed of 15-20 personnel each. As of October 2010, there were 317 POMLTs, of which 279 were staffed by the United States. In addition to the training, Obama Administration strategy emphasizes expanding the ANSF and improving it through partnering--about 70% of Afghan units are now partnered with international forces.

The U.S. police training effort was first led by State Department/INL, but the Defense Department took over the lead in police training in April 2005. Much of the training is still conducted through contracts with DynCorp.

Afghan National Army

The Afghan National Army has been built "from scratch" since 2002--it is not a direct continuation of the national army that existed from the 1880s until the Taliban era. That national army all but disintegrated during the 1992-1996 mujahedin civil war and the 1996-2001 Taliban period. However, some Afghan officers who served prior to the Taliban have joined the ANA.

U.S. and allied officers say that the ANA is becoming a major force in stabilizing the country and a national symbol. It now has at least some presence in most of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, working with the PRTs, and it deployed outside Afghanistan to assist relief efforts for victims of the October 2005 Pakistan earthquake. According to the Department of Defense, the ANA is able to lead a growing percentage of all combat operations, but there is substantial skepticism within the U.S. defense establishment that it can assume full security responsibility by 2014, which is the target time frame announced by Karzai. Among examples of the ANA taking overall responsibility, in August 2008, the ANA took over security of Kabul city from Italy, and it took formal control of Kabul Province in early 2009. The commando forces of the ANA, trained by U.S. Special Operations Forces, and numbering about 5,300, are considered well-trained and are taking the lead in some operations against high-value targets, particularly against HIG elements in Nuristan province.

However, some U.S. military assessments say the force remains poorly led. It still suffers from at least a 20% desertion rate. Many officers are illiterate or poorly motivated. (34) Some accounts say that a typical ANA unit is only at about 50% of its authorized strength at any given time, and there are significant shortages in about 40% of equipment items. The high desertion rate complicates U.S.-led efforts to steadily grow the force. Some recruits take long trips to their home towns to remit funds to their families, and often then return to the ANA after a long absence. Others, according to U.S. observers, often refuse to serve far from their home towns. The FY2005 foreign aid appropriation (P.L. 108-447) required that ANA recruits be vetted for terrorism, human rights violations, and drug trafficking.

ANA battalions, or "Kandaks," are the main unit of the Afghan force. There are over 120 Kandaks. As noted, the Obama Administration strategy is to also partner the ANA with U.S. and other foreign units to enhance effectiveness. General Petraeus and others have attributed the previous lack of progress in the ANSF to the non-systematic use of the partnering concept.

The United States has built five ANA bases: Herat (Corps 207), Gardez (Corps 203), Qandahar (Corps 205), Mazar-e-Sharif (Corps 209), and Kabul (Division HQ, Corps 201, Air Corps). Coalition officers conduct heavy weapons training for a heavy brigade as part of the "Kabul Corps," based in Pol-e-Charki, east of Kabul.

Ethnic and Factional Considerations/Defense Minister Wardak

At the time the United States first began establishing the ANA, Northern Alliance figures who were then in key security positions weighted recruitment for the national army toward its Tajik ethnic base. Many Pashtuns, in reaction, refused recruitment or left the ANA program. The naming of a Pashtun, Abdul Rahim Wardak, as Defense Minister in December 2004 reduced desertions among Pashtuns (he remains in that position). U.S. officials in Afghanistan say this problem was further alleviated with better pay and more close involvement by U.S. forces, and that the force is ethnically integrated in each unit and representative. With about 41% Pashtuns, 34% Tajiks, 12% Hazaras, and 8% Uzbeks, the force is roughly in line with the broad demographics of the country, according to the April 2010 DOD report. However, U.S. commanders say that those Pashtuns who are in the force are disproportionately eastern Pashtuns (from the Ghilzai tribal confederations) rather than southern Pashtuns (mostly Durrani tribal confederations). Defense Minister Wardak said in February 2011 that a greater proportion of southern Pashtuns are being recruited to redress that imbalance somewhat. The chief of staff was General Bismillah Khan, a Tajik who was a Northern Alliance commander, although as of June 2010 he is Interior Minister.

There were press reports in April 2011 that Karzai might be planning to replace Wardak (as well as Finance Minister Omar Zakhiwal) partly because he perceives them as working too closely with their U.S. counterparts. A name that has surfaced to potentially replace Wardak is Gen. Abdul Rauf Begi, an ethnic Uzbek who is close to Abdul Rashid Dostam; his appointment would represent a Karzai move to further consolidate support from the Uzbek community, but could alienate the Pashtuns in the military.

Afghan Air Force

Equipment, maintenance, and logistical difficulties continue to plague the Afghan National Army Air Corps (Afghan Air Force). The force is a carryover from the Afghan Air Force that existed prior to the Soviet invasion, and is expanding gradually after its equipment was virtually eliminated in the 2001-2002 U.S. combat against the Taliban regime. It now has about over 3,000 personnel, including 400 pilots, as well as a total of about 46 aircraft. Afghan pilots are based at Bagram air base.

The Afghan goal is to have 61 aircraft by 2011, but it remains mostly a support force for ground operations rather than a combat-oriented Air Force. However, the Afghan Air Force has been able to make ANA units nearly self-sufficient in airlift. Afghanistan is seeking the return of 26 aircraft, including some MiG-2s that were flown to safety in Pakistan and Uzbekistan during the past conflicts in Afghanistan. U.S. plans do not include supply of fixed-wing combat aircraft such as F-16s, which Afghanistan wants, according to U.S. military officials. In 2010, Russia and Germany supplied MI-8 helicopters to the Afghan Air Force.

Afghan National Police (ANP)

U.S. and Afghan officials believe that building up a credible and capable national police force is at least as important to combating the insurgency as building the ANA. The April 2010 and November 2010 DOD reports on Afghanistan stability reinforce a widespread consensus that the ANP substantially lags the ANA in its development. Outside assessments are widely disparaging, asserting that there is rampant corruption to the point where citizens mistrust and fear the ANP. Among other criticisms are a desertion rate far higher than that of the ANA; substantial illiteracy; involvement in local factional or ethnic disputes because the ANP works in the communities its personnel come from; and widespread use of drugs. It is this view that has led to consideration of stepped up efforts to promote local security solutions such as those discussed above.

Some U.S. commanders are more positive, saying that it is increasingly successful in repelling Taliban assaults on villages and that is experiencing fewer casualties from attacks than it was previously. Afghan police in Kabul won praise from the U.S. commanders for putting down, largely on their own and without major civilian casualties, the insurgent attack on Kabul locations near the presidential palace on January 18, 2010, and a similar attack on February 26, 2010. Bismillah Khan, the new Interior Minister, was highly respected as ANA chief of staff and has taken new steps to try to improve the police force, including through unannounced visits to ANP bases and stations around the country. Still, some Pashtuns might resent his Tajik ethnicity.

Other U.S. commanders credit a November 2009 raise in police salaries (nearly doubled to about $240 per month for service in high combat areas)--and the streamlining and improvement of the payments system for the ANP--with reducing the solicitation of bribes by the ANP. The raise also stimulated an eightfold increase in the number of Afghans seeking to be recruited. Others note the success, thus far, of efforts to pay police directly (and avoid skimming by commanders) through cell phone-based banking relationships (E-Paisa, run by Roshan cell network). At a February 14, 2011, news conference. Lt. Gen. Caldwell stated that 21,000 ANP officers have undergone NTMA-furnished literacy training, and that 86% of the ANP can now read, at the least, on a first-grade level.

Police Retraining and Other Initiatives

Some U.S. officials believe that the United States and its partners still have not centered on a clearly effective police training strategy. The latest training reorganization implemented since 2007 is called "focused district development," which attempts to retrain individual police forces in districts, which is the basic geographic area of ANP activity. (There are about 10 "districts" in each of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.) In this program, a district force is taken out and retrained, its duties temporarily performed by more highly trained police (Afghan National Civil Order Police, or ANCOP, which number about 5,800 nationwide), and then reinserted after the training is complete. As of late 2010, police in at least 100 districts have undergone this process, although program success has been hampered by continuing governance and other problems in those districts, according to DOD reports. The ANCOP officers are being used to staff the new checkpoints being set up to better secure Qandahar.

Police training now includes instruction in human rights principles and democratic policing concepts, and the State Department human rights report on Afghanistan, referenced above, says the government and outside observers are increasingly monitoring the police force to prevent abuses. In March 2010, then-Interior Minister Atmar signed a "strategic guidance" document for the ANP, which prioritizes eliminating corruption within the ANP and winning public confidence. About 1,000 ANP are women, demonstrating some commitment to gender integration of the force.

There have been few quick fixes for the chronic shortage of equipment in the ANP. Most police are under-equipped, lacking ammunition and vehicles. In some cases, equipment requisitioned by their commanders is being sold and the funds pocketed by the police officers. These activities contributed to the failure of a 2006 "auxiliary police" effort that attempted to rapidly field large numbers of new ANP officers.

Rule of Law/Criminal Justice Sector

Many experts believe that an effective justice sector is vital to Afghan governance. Some of the criticisms and allegations of corruption at all levels of the Afghan bureaucracy have been discussed throughout this report. U.S. justice sector programs generally focus on promoting rule of law and building capacity of the judicial system, including police training and court construction. The rule of law issue is covered in detail in CRS Report R41484, Afghanistan: U.S. Rule of Law and Justice Sector Assistance, by Liana Sun Wyler and Kenneth Katzman

U.S. Security Forces Funding/"CERP"

Because the Afghan government has so few resources, the Afghan security sector is funded almost entirely through international donations. In December 2009, Karzai asserted that the Afghan government could not likely fund its own security forces until 2024. More than half of all U.S. assistance to Afghanistan since 2002 has gone toward building the ANSF. U.S. funds are used to cover ANA salaries as well as to equip and train them. Recent appropriations for the ANA and ANP are contained in the tables at the end of this report, which also contain breakdowns for Commanders Emergency Response Program funds, or CERP, which is used for projects that build goodwill and presumably reduce the threat to use forces. CERP has also been used for projects that are traditionally considered suitable for management by USAID, a point of contention among some observers. The tables at the end also list breakdowns for ANSF funding. As noted in the tables, as of FY2005, the security forces funding has been DOD funds, not State Department funds.

International Trust Fund for the ANSF

In 2007, ISAF set up a trust fund for donor contributions to fund the transportation of equipment donated to and the training of the ANSF. U.S. funding for the ANSF is provided separately, not through this fund. The fund is estimated to require $2 billion per year. NATO allies in Europe have contributed about $375 million to the fund.

Law and Order Trust Fund

There is also a separate "Law and Order Trust Fund" (LOTF) for Afghanistan, run by the U.N. Development Program. The fund is used to pay the salaries of the ANP and other police-related functions. Japan's payments of ANP salaries, discussed above, run through the LOTF. Its budget for the two years September 2008--December 2010 is about $630 million. From 2002-2010, donors contributed $1.56 billion to the Fund, of which the United States contributed about $500 million, according to the November 2010 DOD report (p. 19). Japan's 2009 pledge to pay the expenses of the Afghan police for at least six months (about $125 million for each six month period) is implemented through the LOTF.

Policy Component: Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)

U.S. and partner officials have generally praised the effectiveness of "Provincial Reconstruction Teams" (PRTs)--enclaves of U.S. or partner forces and civilian officials that provide safe havens for international aid workers to help with reconstruction and to extend the writ of the Kabul government--in accelerating reconstruction and assisting stabilization efforts. The PRTs, the concept for which was announced in December 2002, perform activities ranging from resolving local disputes to coordinating local reconstruction projects, although most U.S.-run PRTs and most PRTs in combat-heavy areas focus on counter-insurgency. Many of the additional U.S. civilian officials deployed to Afghanistan during 2009 and 2010 are based at PRTs, which have facilities, vehicles, and security.

The list of PRTs in operation, including lead country, is shown in Table 25. Virtually all the PRTs are now under the ISAF mission. Each PRT operated by the United States has U.S. forces; Defense Department civil affairs officers; representatives of USAID, State Department, and other agencies; and Afghan government (Interior Ministry) personnel. Most PRTs, including those run by partner forces, have personnel to train Afghan security forces. USAID officers assigned to the PRTs administer PRT reconstruction projects, although USAID observers say there is little Afghan input, either into project decision making or as contractors for facility and other construction. That lack of input has fed criticism by Karzai, most recently at his February 6, 2011, speech at a security conference in Munich, that the PRTs should be abolished and all aid funds channeled through the Afghan government. USAID spending on PRT projects is in the table on USAID spending in Afghanistan at the end of this report, and there is a database on development projects sponsored by each PRT available to CRS, information from which can be provided on request.

In the south, most PRTs are heavily focused on security. In August 2005, in preparation for the establishment of Regional Command South (RC-S), Canada took over the key U.S.-led PRT in Qandahar. In May 2006, Britain took over the PRT at Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand Province. At the same time, the Netherlands took over the PRT at Tarin Kowt, capital of Uruzgan Province. However, the Tarin Kowt PRT has been led by Australia and the United States since the September 2010 Dutch departure.

Some aid agencies say they have felt more secure since the PRT program began, fostering reconstruction, (35) and many of the new civilian advisers arriving in Afghanistan under the new Obama Administration strategy work out of the PRTs. On the other hand, some relief groups do not want to associate with military forces because doing so might taint their perceived neutrality. Others, such as Oxfam International, argue that the PRTs are delaying the time when the Afghan government has the skills and resources to secure and develop Afghanistan on its own.

Evolving Civil-Military Concepts at the PRTs

Representing evolution of the PRT concept, some donor countries--as well as the United States--are trying to enhance the civilian component of the PRTs and change their image from mainly military institutions. There has been long been consideration to turn over the lead in the U.S.-run PRTs to civilians rather than military personnel, presumably State Department or USAID officials. That was first attempted in 2006 with the establishment of a civilian-led U.S.-run PRT in the Panjshir Valley. As noted, in March 2009, the Netherlands converted its PRT to civilian lead, although that alteration has not continued with the assumption of U.S. and Australian PRT command as of July 2010. Turkey opened a PRT, in Wardak Province, on November 25, 2006, to focus on providing health care, education, police training, and agricultural alternatives in that region.

As of November 2009, the "civilianization" of the PRT concept has evolved further with the decision to refer to PRTs as Interagency Provincial Affairs (IPA) offices or branches. In this new concept--a local parallel to the Senior Civilian Representatives now assigned to each regional command--State Department officers enjoy enhanced decision-making status at each PRT.

Policy Pillar: Cooperation With Allies and Burdensharing (36)

Since inception, the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan has been international, and dependent on cooperation with partners. Since 2006, the vast bulk of all U.S. troops in Afghanistan have served under the umbrella of the NATO-led "International Security Assistance Force" (ISAF). ISAF consists of all 26 NATO members states plus partner countries--a total of 50 countries including the United States. President Obama's December 1, 2009, policy speech on Afghanistan was explicit in seeking new partner troop commitments, and pledges met or exceeded what some U.S. officials expected. However, as the transition to Afghan leadership begins later in 2011, Secretary of Defense Gates has led a U.S. effort to prevent U.S. partners from "rushing to the exits" by pulling forces out before their areas of responsibility are ready for transition.

Virtually all the European governments are under pressure from their publics and parliaments to end or reduce their military involvement in Afghanistan. Several key contingents either (1) have already ended their combat missions (the Netherlands), (2) will end those missions (Canada, by the summer of 2011), or (3) are setting notional times to depart before the 2014 time frame agreed on for completing the transition to Afghan leadership (a time frame agreed to in the November 19-20, 2010, NATO summit in Lisbon). Britain has steadily increased its troop commitment in Afghanistan--mainly in high combat Helmand Province--to about 9,500 (plus 500 special forces). In line with other contributors, British official comments have indicated that Britain might want to end its mission before 2014. Britain has lost over 300 soldiers in Afghanistan. Italy, Poland, and Germany have also indicated an intent to try to wind down their involvement in Afghanistan before the end of 2014, and Germany's parliament in January 2011 only renewed the German participation for one year, although that might be reviewed in late 2011. Partner forces that continue to bear the brunt of combat in Afghanistan include Britain, Canada, Poland, France, Denmark, Romania, and Australia.

Recent Major Contingent Developments

Following the Obama Administration's March 27, 2009, policy announcement, some additional pledges came through at the April 3-4, 2009, NATO summit. Major new force pledges were issued in conjunction with the January 28, 2010, conference in London. However, some of these forces were intended to compensate for the pullouts by the Netherlands and Canada 2010 and 2011, respectively. The major recent pledges are the following:

* April 2009: NATO agreed to a new training missions for the ANSF. A NATO Training Mission--Afghanistan (NTM-A) under the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell has been established. Also that month, $500 million in additional Afghan civilian aid was pledged by several donors. Also that month, there was agreement for partners to deploy 3,000 troops to secure the Afghan elections and 2,000 trainers for the Afghan security forces.

* November 10, 2009: Ahead of President Obama's visit to Asia, Japan announced a pledge of $5 billion over the next five years for Afghanistan civilian development, although it suspended its naval refueling mission. Japan has been covering about half of the salary costs of the ANP (which are about $250 million total per year).

* July 2009: South Korea announced it would increase its aid contribution to Afghanistan by about $20 million, in part to expand the hospital capabilities at Bagram Air Base. In November 2009, it announced a return of about 150 engineers to Afghanistan for development missions, protected by 300 South Korean forces. The forces deployed to Parwan Province in July 2010. (38)

* December 2009-January 2010 (London conference): A total of about 9,000 forces were pledged (including retaining 2,000 sent for the August 2009 election who were due to rotate out). Several countries pledged police trainers.

* In July 2010, Malaysia became a new contributor to the Afghanistan effort, furnishing 40 military medics.

* In late 2010, partner countries pledged to help fill a gap of about 750 trainers for the Afghan National Security Forces. However, Lt. Gen. Caldwell said in February 2011 that this trainer gap remains. A commitment in February 2011 by the Netherlands to send 545 trainers to northern Afghanistan was a separate commitment that did not close the overall trainer gap.

* In March 2011, Germany said it would add 300 forces to operate surveillance systems, although this decision was related to its refusal to participate in military action against Libya rather than to an Afghanistan-specific requirement.

National "Caveats" on Combat Operations

One of the most thorny issues has been the U.S. effort to persuade other NATO countries to adopt flexible rules of engagement that allow all contributing forces to perform combat missions. NATO and other partner forces have not, as they pledged at the NATO summit in April 2008, removed the so-called "national caveats" on their troops' operations that Lt. Gen. McChrystal says limits operational flexibility. For example, some nations refuse to conduct night-time combat. Others have refused to carry Afghan personnel on their helicopters. Others do not fight after snowfall. These caveats were troubling to NATO members like Canada, with forces in heavy combat zones; such countries feel they are bearing the brunt of the fighting.

Obama Administration Strategy and Troop Buildup

In September 2008, the U.S. military and NATO each began strategy reviews. The primary U.S. review was headed by Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the Bush Administration's senior adviser on Iraq and Afghanistan (who is in the Obama NSC with responsibility for Afghanistan). These reviews were briefed to the incoming Obama Administration. The Obama Administration, which maintained that Afghanistan needed to be given a higher priority than it was during the Bush Administration, integrated the reviews into an overarching 60-day inter-agency "strategy review." It was chaired by South Asia expert Bruce Riedel and co-chaired by Ambassador Holbrooke and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy.

March 27, 2009, Policy Announcement and Troop Increase, First Command Change, and McChrystal Assessment

President Obama announced a "comprehensive" strategy on March 27, 2009. (39) In conjunction, he announced the deployment of an additional 21,000 U.S. forces, of which about 4,000 would be trainers. Shortly after the announcement, the Administration decided that U.S. military leadership in Afghanistan was insufficiently innovative. On May 11, 2009, Secretary of Defense Gates announced that General McKiernan would be replaced by General Stanley McChrystal, considered an innovative commander as head of U.S. special operations from 2003 to 2008. He assumed command on June 15, 2009.

General McChrystal, after assuming command, assessed the security situation and suggested a strategy in a report of August 30, 2009, and presented to NATO on August 31, 2009, (40) as follows:

* That the goal of the U.S. military should be to protect the population--and to help the Afghan government take steps to earn the trust of the population--rather than to search out and combat Taliban concentrations. Indicators of success such as ease of road travel and normal life for families are more important than are counts of numbers of enemy fighters killed.

* That there is potential for "mission failure" unless a fully resourced, comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy is pursued and reverses Taliban momentum within 12-18 months. About 44,000 additional U.S. combat troops (beyond those approved by the Obama Administration strategy review in March 2009) would be needed to have the greatest chance for his strategy's success.

Second High-Level Review and Further Force Increase

The McChrystal assessment set off debate within the Administration and another policy review, taking into account the McChrystal recommendations and the marred August 20, 2009, presidential election. Some senior U.S. officials, such as Secretary of Defense Gates, were concerned that adding many more U.S. forces could create among the Afghan people a sense of "occupation" that could prove counter-productive. The high-level review included at least nine high-level meetings, chaired by President Obama, and reportedly concluded on November 19, 2009. The President announced his decisions in a speech at West Point military academy on December 1, 2009. (41) The major features of the December 1 statement included the following:

* That 30,000 additional U.S. forces would be sent (bringing U.S. levels close to 100,000) to "reverse the Taliban's momentum" and strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government.

* That there would be a transition, beginning in July 2011, to Afghan leadership of the stabilization effort and a corresponding beginning of a drawdown of U.S. force levels. The July 2011 "deadline" caused significant controversy, as discussed below.

McChrystal Replaced by Petraeus

On June 23, 2010, President Obama accepted the resignation of General McChrystal after summoning him to Washington, DC, to discuss the comments by him and his staff to a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine that disparaged several civilian figures involved in Afghanistan policy. He named General Petraeus as General McChrystal's successor. In a June 23, 2010, statement, President Obama attributed the change purely to the Rolling Stone comments, and stated that Afghanistan policy would not change. General Petraeus was confirmed by the Senate on June 30, 2010, and assumed command on July 4, 2010.

Strategy Amendment: July 2011 "Deadline" Yields to "Transition" By 2015

The Obama Administration emphasis on transition to Afghan security leadership beginning in July 2011 has been perhaps the most widely debated aspect of policy. Debate over whether to announce such a timeframe is described in the 2010 book by Bob Woodward called Obama's Wars. The 2011 "deadline" was interpreted by some Administration critics--and by some Afghan and regional leaders--as laying the groundwork for winding down U.S. involvement in coming years. (46) The Administration has said it set the time frame to demonstrate to a war-weary public that U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan is not open-ended. Perhaps to address perceived criticism of such a deadline in the upper ranks of the U.S. military, in an August 31, 2010 statement, the President asserted that the pace and scope of any drawdown in 2011 would be subject to conditions on the ground.

The debate over the July 2011 drawdown abated substantially with an agreement between the United States and NATO partner forces to focus on a longer time frame for transition to Afghan leadership. At the November 19-20, 2010, NATO summit in Lisbon, it was agreed that the transition to Afghan leadership would begin in 2011 and would be completed by the end of 2014. The 2014 date is one that Karzai articulated in 2009 as a time when Afghan forces would be able to secure Afghanistan.

Implementation of Strategy, Early Results, and Transition Begins

The pace and scope of the transition will depend on assessments of how well U.S. policy is working. As discussed, Gen. Petraeus reiterated in his March 15 and 16, 2011, testimony before the two armed services committees of Congress that U.S. strategy is showing results, particularly in the provinces of focus (Helmand, Qandahar) although such gains are "fragile and reversible." That same assessment was reflected in a White House report to Congress submitted in March 2011 and covering July 2010-March 2011. (47) According to these statements and documents:

* The progress is creating a contiguous secure corridor for commerce between Helmand and Qandahar, and markets and other signs of normal life are proliferating in Helmand and Qandahar.

* U.S. commanders are receiving overtures from local insurgent leaders who have lost morale and seek to discuss possible terms for their surrender and reintegration.

* The Afghan forces are becoming increasingly large, adding 70,000 personnel since the start of the U.S. buildup in 2009, and are increasingly in the lead on operations.

Less optimistic views are based on observations that the insurgency continues to make gains in previously quiet provinces, including Baghlan, Konduz, and Faryab provinces. Still others say that Afghan governance is lagging to the point where the Afghans will not be able to hold U.S./NATO gains on their own and insurgents will be able to regroup as soon as international forces thin out. On the other hand, U.S. and British civilians officials responsible for southern Afghanistan, including State Department officer Henry Ensher and British senior representative Michael O'Neill, said in January 2011 that strides are being noticed in Afghan governance, as noted above.

Some commanders attribute the signs of progress not only to the increase in numbers of U.S. forces, but to General Petraeus' tactics, including nearly tripling Special Operations Force operations in Afghanistan and greatly increased UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) strikes on concentrations across the border in Pakistan to try to drive insurgents to reconcile with the Karzai government and cease fighting. Some attribute progress to increased operations by U.S. Special Forces and CIA-trained Afghan special forces and militias, including Afghan "Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams." In November 2010, General Petraeus reportedly approved the deployment of about 16 M1A1 tanks for use by the Marines in southern Afghanistan in order to put further pressure on militants. To solidify gains prior to a likely upsurge of fighting in spring 2011, in January 2011, the Administration announced an extra 1,400 U.S. troops would deploy to Afghanistan.

Focus of the 2010-2011 Effort: Helmand, and Qandahar

Prior to the start of the transition to Afghan lead in 2011, the U.S.-led effort has focused on securing the most restive provinces of Helmand and Qandahar, and has yielded substantial gains, by most accounts. The reports of progress in Helmand represent a turnaround from earlier pessimism about the outcome of "Operation Moshtarek" (Operation Together). It consisted of about 15,000 U.S., foreign partner, and Afghan forces (about 8,000 of the total) that, beginning on February 13, 2010, sought to clear Taliban militants from Marjah city (85,000 population) in Helmand. An Afghan governing structure was identified in advance (so-called "government in a box"), the population had substantial warning, and there were meetings with regional elders just before the offensive began--all of which were an apparent effort to cause militants to flee and to limit civilian losses. (48) The city, for the most part, was declared cleared of militants as of February 26, 2010, but some militants continued to fight in and on the outskirts of Marjah and to assassinate and intimidate Afghans cooperating with U.S. and Afghan forces. That activity reportedly has diminished as of January 2011. Further progress in Helmand was noted in early January 2011. Tribal figures in highly restive Sangin district, mentioned above, agreed with U.S. commanders to help prevent Taliban reinfiltration. However, such "deals" have often been struck in the past, only to later collapse, and there were reports in February 2011 that this arrangement has frayed.


The Administration assessments of progress are based largely on views of success in Qandahar Province. In early 2010, U.S. commanders had emphasized that the Qandahar effort would focus less on combat and more on conducting consultations and shuras with tribal leaders and other notables to enlist their cooperation against Taliban infiltrators. U.S. commanders described the operation as more of a "process," or a slow push into restive districts by setting up Afghan checkpoints to secure the city and districts around it (particularly Arghandab, Zhari, and Panjwai)--and not a classic military offensive. Qandahar's population is far larger (about 2 million in the province), and Qandahar province and city have functioning governments, which Marjah did not. The city hosts numerous businesses and has always remained vibrant, despite some Taliban clandestine activity.

A sense of doubt about the prospects for Qandahar built in April-August 2010 as Afghan tribal and other residential resistance--expressed at local shuras--to any combat to secure Qandahar. However, General Petraeus increased operations by U.S. Special Operations Forces against key militants near the city (49) and subsequently expanded the U.S. force presence in partnership with Afghan forces. The strategy ended Taliban control of many neighborhoods and Afghan checkpoints have been established. Further shuras have been held to promote Afghan governance. As part of the effort to stabilize Qandahar U.S. officials are reportedly trying to strengthen Governor Tooryalai Wesa and balance the flow of U.S. and international funds to the various tribes and clans in the province. An unstated objective is also to weaken the influence of Karzai's brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, chair of the provincial council, who is discussed above, (50) although it is not clear that this has been accomplished. DOD and USAID are also working to expand electricity availability in and around Qandahar by refurbishing substations, a large effort that prompted a request for the "Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund" mechanism discussed later.

Transition and U.S. Drawdown Set to Begin

Despite doubts about the durability of progress to date, the stated transition to Afghan leadership is to begin in 2011. On March 22, 2011, as expected, Karzai announced the first set of areas to be transitioned, as of June 22, 2011. They are:

* Three provinces: Kabul (except Sarobi district, which is still restive), Panjshir, and Bamiyan. The latter two are considered highly stable. In Kabul, Afghan forces have already been in the lead for at least one year.

* Four cities: Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Lashkar Gah, and Mehtarlam. The former two cities are widely considered stable. The latter two are in restive areas, Helmand and Laghman provinces, respectively, and the announcement of transition surprised many observers.

U.S. Drawdown

According to statements by General Petraeus, as areas are "transitioned," U.S. forces are to be withdrawn or thinned out. Some forces may be "reinvested" (redeployed) to areas where extra combat force is required. In his testimony, Gen. Petraeus said he has not yet made recommendations as to how many U.S. forces might be withdrawn from Afghanistan in July 2011, but that there will be at least some drawdown at that time. Press reports say the range of the drawdown of July 2011 is likely to be from virtually no forces, to about 5,000 personnel, including some combat forces. (51)

Resolving Operational Differences/SOFA?

As the Afghan forces assume a larger role in operations, it is likely that the Afghan government will step up its efforts to assume a larger role in approving NATO-led operations. Such sentiments arose in 2008, when the Afghan cabinet reacted to some high-profile instances of accidental civilian deaths by demanding negotiation of a formal "Status of Forces Agreement" (SOFA). As noted earlier, differences between Karzai and the U.S. command in Afghanistan erupted again in November 2010 with Karzai calling for a decrease in the number of night raids and other operations that cause civilian unrest. Anger erupted in March 2011 over the mistaken shooting of nine young boys in Kunar Province by U.S. helicopter operations. Karzai at first rejected a direct apology by General Petraeus, but then accepted the apology from visiting Secretary Gates on March 7, 2011.

To try to avoid recriminations, a SOFA is typically negotiated to spell out the combat authorities of non-Afghan forces, and might limit the United States to airstrikes, detentions, and house raids. (52) U.S. forces currently operate in Afghanistan under relatively vague "diplomatic notes" between the United States and the interim government of Afghanistan--primarily one that was exchanged in November 2002. That agreed note gives the United States legal jurisdiction over U.S. personnel serving in Afghanistan and states the Afghan government's acknowledgment that U.S.-led military operations were "ongoing." A draft SOFA--or technical agreement clarifying U.S./coalition authorities in Afghanistan--reportedly has been under discussion between the United States and Afghanistan since 2007.

Beyond 2014: Long-Term Security Commitment

President Obama and other senior U.S. officials say that 2014 is not a date certain for a complete U.S. pullout, but rather for a transition to Afghan lead, with some international forces remaining after 2014 to train and mentor the Afghans. During a visit to Afghanistan ,Vice President Biden reiterated on January 10, 2011, that U.S. forces would likely be required to help secure Afghanistan after 2014. This was reiterated by Secretary Gates on his March 7, 2011, visit to Afghanistan.

The issue of a SOFA, discussed above, is related to that of a longer-term strategic partnership with Afghanistan. As noted above, some Afghan leaders perceived the Obama Administration's 2011 deadline to "begin" a transition to Afghan security leadership as a sign the Administration might want to abandon Afghanistan. In part to reassure the Afghan government, President Obama, at a May 12, 2010, press conference with visiting President Karzai, stated that the United States and Afghanistan would renew a five-year-old strategic partnership.

Some advocate that any SOFA or strategic accord with Afghanistan resemble that which was agreed with Iraq in 2008--which stipulated an end date for U.S. military involvement in Iraq. However, unlike Iraq, no major Afghan figures are calling for an end to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. Negotiations on a long term strategic partnership began with the February 24-28, 2011, visit to Washington, DC, of Afghan Defense Minister Wardak and Interior Minister Khan; the talks continued with the March 2011 visit to Afghanistan of a U.S. negotiating team, as stated by Secretary Gates on March 7, 2011. The Administration intent is to finalize the new strategic partnership to coincide with the beginning of the U.S. drawdown in July 2011.

The strategic partnership was first established on May 23, 2005, when Karzai and President Bush issued a "joint declaration" (53) providing for U.S. forces to have access to Afghan military facilities, in order to prosecute "the war against international terror and the struggle against violent extremism." The joint statement did not give Karzai enhanced control over facilities used by U.S. forces, over U.S. operations, or over prisoners taken during operations. Some of the bases, both in and near Afghanistan, that support combat in Afghanistan, include those in Table 8. Karzai's signing of the partnership had been blessed by Afghan representatives on May 8, 2005, when he summoned about 1,000 delegates to a consultative jirga in Kabul on whether to host permanent U.S. bases. That jirga supported an indefinite presence of international forces to maintain security but urged Karzai to delay a decision. He stated on March 22, 2011, that he would likely call another loya jirga to evaluate any renewal of the partnership. A FY2009 supplemental appropriation (P.L. 111-32) and the FY2010 and FY2011 National Defense Authorization Acts (P.L. 111-84 and H.R. 6523, respectively) prohibit the U.S. establishment of permanent bases in Afghanistan.

Threats to Long-Term U.S. Presence: 2011 Protests

If there is a decision to retain international forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014, the attitudes of the Afghan population might become a factor. The insurgent forces had always used the presence of foreign forces on Afghan soil as a rallying and recruiting point, but the vast bulk of Afghans have, in surveys, generally appreciated the need for foreign forces to secure Afghanistan. There were signs in April 2011 that the public welcome of foreign forces might be eroding. On April 1, 2011, crowds of Afghans in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif demonstrated against the March 2011 burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor. The demonstration turned violent, with protesters storming the U.N. compound in the city and killing 12, including 7 U.N. staff. Demonstrations in other Afghan cities followed, including anti-U.S. slogans and posters echoing the Taliban's anti-U.S., anti-Western rhetoric. The demonstrations raised questions as to whether the Afghan public has begun to see international forces as occupiers, and appeared to illustrate that a long term presence of large numbers of international forces might be opposed broadly within Afghanistan.

Security Innovations To Facilitate the Transition

Despite the assessments of progress, General Petraeus and others are said to believe that a faster end to the conflict on U.S./NATO/Afghan government terms requires new approaches that convince insurgent leaders that further conflict is futile and that a negotiated settlement should be pursued. Some of the more recent strategy and policy innovations designed to shape an "end game" in Afghanistan are discussed below.

"Reintegration" and "Reconciliation" With Insurgents

The issue of reintegrating insurgent fighters into society, and reconciling with insurgent leaders, are Afghan-led processes but they are activities in which the United States and the international community is increasingly interested and involved. The issues have concerned some in the international community and Afghanistan, because of the potential for compromises with insurgents that may involve backsliding on human rights. Most insurgents are highly conservative Islamists who agreed with the limitations in women's rights that characterized Taliban rule. Many leaders of ethnic minorities are also skeptical of the effort because they fear that it might further Pashtun political strength within Afghanistan, and enhance the influence of Pakistan in Afghan politics. General Petraeus has said that the way conflicts like the one in Afghanistan end is through a political settlement. The United States and the Karzai government agree that any settlement must involve fighters and insurgent leaders: (1) cease fighting, (2) accept the Afghan constitution, and (3) sever any ties to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.

Reintegration/"Peace Jirga"

A major Afghan and U.S./NATO initiative is to provide incentives to persuade insurgents to surrender and reenter their communities. The elements included in a reintegration plan drafted by the Afghan government and presented to the peace loya jirga during June 2-4, 2010 (54) included providing surrendering fighters with jobs, amnesty, protection, and an opportunity to be part of the security architecture for their communities. In its final declaration, the peace jirga backed the plan, but also called for limits in NATO-led raids and further efforts to limit civilian casualties. It also called for the release of some detained insurgents where allegations against them are weak. The day after the jirga concluded, Karzai sought to implement that recommendation by calling for a review of the cases of all insurgent detentions. In late June 2010, President Karzai issued a decree to implement the plan, which involves outreach by Afghan local leaders to tribes and others who are in a position to convince insurgents to lay down their arms. The of international donors formally took up the issue and backed Afghan programs to reintegrate fighters amenable to surrendering. The issue received formal international backing at the January 28, 2010, London conference and the follow-up July 20, 2010, Kabul Conference. Britain, Japan, and several other countries, including the United States, have announced a total of about $235 million in donations to a new fund to support the reintegration process, of which $134 million has been received. (55) The U.S contribution is to be about $100 million (CERP funds), of which $50 million was formally pledged in April 2011.

Although it reached some substantive conclusions, the peace jirga itself received mixed reviews for its inclusiveness or lack thereof. Karzai tried to bring other minority communities along in backing the peace jirga and the reintegration process, and to do so he appointed former leader Burhanuddin Rabbani to chair the jirga. However, "opposition leader" Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai's rival in the 2009 presidential election, boycotted the jirga.

Despite the international funding for the effort, the Afghan-led reintegration process has moved forward slowly. As of March 2011, according to Petraeus testimony, about 700 fighters have reintegrated and another 2,000 are expected to begin the process in the near future. In addition, press reports say that some Taliban fighters sought information on the September 18, 2010, parliamentary election as a possible prelude to joining the political process.

U.S. military meetings with tribal elders have, in some cases, persuaded Taliban and other insurgents in their areas to stop fighting. Some U.S. commanders are reporting some success, using Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds. The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010 (P.L. 111-84) authorized the use of CERP funds to win local support, to "reintegrate" Taliban fighters. FY2011 budget language requested by the Administration would authorize U.S. funds to be contributed to the reintegration fund mentioned above. To help the process along from the international perspective, in November 2009, ISAF set up a "force reintegration cell" to develop additional programs and policies to accelerate the effort to cause insurgents to change sides. These strategies are similar to what was employed successfully in Anbar Province in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.

Karzai has consistently advocated talks with Taliban militants who want to end their fight. Noted above is the "Program for Strengthening Peace and Reconciliation" (referred to in Afghanistan by its Pashto acronym "PTS") headed by Meshrano Jirga speaker Sibghatullah Mojadeddi and former Vice President Karim Khalili, and overseen by Karzai's National Security Council. The program is credited with persuading 9,000 Taliban figures and commanders to renounce violence and join the political process.

Reconciliation With Taliban/Insurgent Leaders

A separate Karzai initiative--far more widely debated than reintegration--is to conduct negotiations with senior insurgent leaders. Many in the international community, and within the Obama Administration, had feared that reconciliation has the potential to result in insurgent leaders obtaining senior positions or control over some Afghan territory, and that these figures will retain ties to Al Qaeda and commit abuses similar to those under the Taliban regime. The July 20, 2010, Kabul Conference did not issue unqualified support for high-level reconciliation talks, instead endorsing establishment of an Afghan High Peace Council to build Afghan consensus on the issue. That Council was established on September 5, 2010, and its 70 members met for the first time under the leadership of Tajik leader Rabbani on October 10, 2010. Yet, the direct role of the Council in negotiations is unclear; rather, it might be asked to review and endorse any settlement that is reached. In a significant step, the leadership of the Afghan High Peace Council visited Pakistan during January 12, 2011, to discuss with senior Pakistani officials some of the issues that might promote a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. Rabbani also attended the Contact Group meeting in Jeddah, mentioned above, on March 3, 2011.

In an apparent shift, as stated by President Obama on December 16, 2010, the United States now backs the concept of reconciliation with insurgent leaders who meet the conditions stated above. Earlier, in March 2009, President Obama publicly ruled out negotiations with Mullah Umar and his top aides because of their alignment with Al Qaeda. Others still differ on the willingness of senior insurgents to bargain in earnest. CIA director Panetta, in a June 27, 2010, interview cited earlier, and reflecting the reported view of several U.S. intelligence agencies as of late 2010, said he saw no indications that insurgent leaders are contemplating settling with the government.

Senior U.S. commanders have grown more optimistic about reconciliation as contacts between Taliban representatives and the Karzai government have continued and proliferated. In February 2011, Karzai stated that he was aware of some recent contacts between Taliban figures and NATO/ISAF personnel. However, observers say that all the discussions to date have been about modalities and an agenda for further talks. Several sets of talks were reported in October 2010, and some press accounts said that NATO/ISAF forces were facilitating the movement of insurgent representatives to these talks. Representatives of the Quetta Shura Taliban were purported to be involved, although this was placed in doubt in late November 2010 when it was revealed that one of the purported senior Taliban interlocutors was an imposter. Still, Mullah Bradar, who is close to Mullah Umar, was said by the Afghan side to have been engaged in talks with the Afghan government prior to his arrest by Pakistan in February 2010. Karzai reportedly believes that Pakistan arrested Bradar in order to be able to influence the course of any Afghan government-Taliban settlement. The Taliban as a movement was not invited to the June 2-4, 2010, consultative peace jirga, but some Taliban sympathizers reportedly were there. The Taliban continues to demand that (1) all foreign troops leave Afghanistan; (2) a new "Islamic" constitution be adopted; and (3) Islamic law is imposed. However, those are viewed as opening positions; the Afghan government, for its part, may have softened its position on changes to the Afghan constitution as part of a settlement.

Other talks have taken place over the past few years, although with less apparent momentum than is the case in 2010. Press reports said that Afghan officials (led by Karzai's brother Qayyum) and Taliban members had met each other in Ramadan-related gatherings in Saudi Arabia in September 2008. Another round of talks was held in January 2009 in Saudi Arabia, and there were reports of ongoing contacts in Dubai, UAE. Some of these talks apparently involved Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban official now in parliament, and the former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, who purportedly is in touch with Umar's inner circle. These same Taliban representatives may have been involved in talks in the mid-late 2010 as well. As discussed above, in advance of the peace jirga, the Karzai government and representatives of Hikmatyar confirmed peace talks on March 21, 2010, in which Karzai, his brother, Ahmad Wali, and several Northern Alliance figures met with the Hikmatyar representatives.

The consultative peace jirga, in its final declaration, supported Karzai's call for the removal of the names of some Taliban figures from U.N. lists of terrorists, lists established pursuant to Resolution 1267 and Resolution 1333 (October 15, 1999, and December 19, 2000, both pre-September 11 sanctions against the Taliban and Al Qaeda) and Resolution 1390 (January 16, 2002). Press reports before the July 20 Kabul Conference said the Afghan government has submitted a list of 50 Taliban figures it wants taken off this list as a confidence-building measure. The Conference called on Afghanistan to engage with the U.N. Security Council to provide evidence to justify such de-listings, and U.N., U.S., and other international officials said they would support considering de-listings on a case-by-case basis. On January 26, 2010, Russia, previously a hold-out against such a process, dropped opposition to removing five Taliban-era figures from these sanctions lists, including Taliban-era foreign minister Wakil Mutawwakil, who ran in 2005 parliamentary elections. Also removed was Abdul Hakim Monib, who has served Karzai as governor of Uruzgan, Abdul Hakim Mujahid, who was Taliban representative in the United States, and three others. Mujahid now is one of three deputy chairs of the High Peace Council. "Mullah Rocketi," not on the sanctions list, is a former Taliban commander who ran for president in the August 2009 elections.

Local Security Experiments: Afghan Provincial Protection Program (APPP), Afghan Local Police (ALP), and Related Initiatives

Until mid-2008, U.S. military commanders opposed assisting local militias anywhere in Afghanistan for fear of creating rivals to the central government. The urgent security needs in Afghanistan caused reconsideration and General Petraeus has expanded local security experiments, based on successful experiences in Iraq. Press reports in July 2010 say he succeeded, after several of his first meetings with Karzai, in overcoming Karzai's reticence to them by assuring him that any local security organs would be under the administration of the Ministry of Interior.

Afghan Local Police

The newest initiative is the "Afghan Local Police" (ALP) initiative, in which local security organs are formed from local recruits who want to defend their communities. The local units are under the control of district police chiefs and each fighter is vetted by a local shura as well as Afghan intelligence (Petraeus testimony, March 15 and 16, 2011). As of early 2011, the initiative has recruited a total of about 2,000--3,000 ALP, who purportedly have protected their communities in Dai Kundi, Heart, Paktika, Paktia, Uruzgan, Konduz, and Farah provinces. In his March 2011 testimony, Gen. Petraeus said that 70 districts had been approved for the program, each with about 300 fighters, which would bring the target size of the program to about 21,000. The Defense Department notified Congress in September 2010 that it will reprogram about $35 million in Afghan security forces funding to support the initiative.

Afghan Provincial Protection Program

The ALP initiative follows on another program begun in 2008, termed the "Afghan Provincial Protection Program" (APPP, commonly called "AP3") and is funded with DOD (CERP) funds. The APPP got under way in Wardak Province (Jalrez district) in early 2009 and 100 local security personnel "graduated" in May 2009. It has been expanded to 1,200 personnel, in a province with a population of about 500,000. U.S. commanders say that no U.S. weapons are supplied to the militias, but this is an Afghan-led program and the Afghan government is providing weapons (Kalashnikov rifles) to the local groups, possibly using U.S. funds. Participants in the program are given $200 per month. General Petraeus showcased Wardak in August 2010 as an example of the success of the APPP and similar efforts. The National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 111-84) called for a report on the program within 120 days of the October 28, 2009, enactment.

Other Initiatives

A separate program, the Local Defense Initiative, began in February 2010 in Arghandab district of Qandahar Province. U.S. Special Forces organized about 25 villagers into a neighborhood watch group, which is armed. The program has been credited by U.S. commanders as bringing normal life back to the district. A different militia was allowed to operate in Konduz to help secure the northern approaches to that city. Problems arose when the militia began arbitrarily administering justice, fueling the concerns discussed above these local security approaches.

The local security experiments to date are not arbokai, which are private tribal militias. Still, some believe that the arbokai concept should be revived as a means of securing Afghanistan, as the arbokai did during the reign of Zahir Shah and in prior pre-Communist eras. Reports persist that some tribal groupings have formed arbokai without specific authorization.

Reversal of Previous Efforts: DDR and DIAG programs

As noted, the local security programs appear to reverse the 2002-2007 efforts to disarm local sources of armed force. The main program, run by UNAMA, was called the "DDR" program--Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration--and it formally concluded on June 30, 2006. The program got off to a slow start because the Afghan Defense Ministry did not reduce the percentage of Tajiks in senior positions by a July 1, 2003, target date, dampening Pashtun recruitment. In September 2003, Karzai replaced 22 senior Tajiks in the Defense Ministry officials with Pashtuns, Uzbeks, and Hazaras, enabling DDR to proceed. The major donor for the program was Japan, which contributed about $140 million. Figures for collected weapons are in and U.S. spending on the programs are in the U.S. aid tables later in the report.

The DDR program was initially expected to demobilize 100,000 fighters, although that figure was later reduced. (Figures for accomplishment of the DDR and DIAG programs are contained in Table 7) Of those demobilized, 55,800 former fighters have exercised reintegration options provided by the program: starting small businesses, farming, and other options. U.N. officials say at least 25% of these found long-term, sustainable jobs. Some studies criticized the DDR program for failing to prevent a certain amount of rearmament of militiamen or stockpiling of weapons and for the rehiring of some militiamen. (56) Part of the DDR program was the collection and cantonment of militia weapons, but generally only poor-quality weapons were collected. As one example, Fahim, still the main military leader of the Northern Alliance faction, continues to turn heavy weapons over to U.N. and Afghan forces (including four Scud missiles), although the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says that large quantities of weapons remain in the Panjshir Valley.

Despite the earlier demobilization, which affected many of the northern minorities, there are indications that some faction leaders may be seeking to revive disbanded militias. The minorities may fear increased Taliban influence as a result of the Karzai reconciliation efforts, and the minorities want to be sure they could combat any Taliban abuses that might result if the Taliban achieves a share of power.


Since June 11, 2005, the disarmament effort has emphasized another program called "DIAG"--Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups. It is run by the Afghan Disarmament and Reintegration Commission, headed by Vice President Khalili. Under the DIAG, no payments are available to fighters, and the program depends on persuasion rather than use of force against the illegal groups. DIAG has not been as well funded as was DDR: it has received $11 million in operating funds. As an incentive for compliance, Japan and other donors have made available $35 million for development projects where illegal groups have disbanded. These incentives were intended to accomplish the disarmament of a pool of as many as 150,000 members of 1,800 different "illegal armed groups": militiamen that were not part of recognized local forces (Afghan Military Forces, AMF) and were never on the rolls of the Defense Ministry. These goals were not met by the December 2007 target date in part because armed groups in the south say they need to remain armed against the Taliban, but UNAMA reports that 100 out of 140 districts planned for DIAG are now considered "DIAG compliant." (U.N. Secretary General Report, March 9, 2011).

Policy Alternatives/Support for Reduced U.S. Military Involvement

Although the testimony of Gen. Petraeus in March 2011 pointed to clear positive results, there is growing discussion of alternatives to address the apparent growth of support for efforts to wind down U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Those who support policy alternatives generally believe that the current Afghanistan effort is faltering and that it is distracting from other priorities on foreign or domestic policy. (57) Others believe that pursuing the suggested alternatives could lead to a collapse of the Afghan government, and would produce an unraveling of the economic, political, and social gains made through the international military involvement in Afghanistan since 2001.

"Counter-Terrorism" Strategy

During the late 2009 strategy review, some, purportedly including Vice President Joseph Biden, favored a more limited mission for Afghanistan designed solely to disrupt Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some believe that this might become U.S. strategy once a transition to Afghan lead is complete. There is no firm number of U.S. troops that was put forward as appropriate to pursue this strategy, although press reports and observers commonly float an informal number of about 25,000 U.S. forces.

As noted, this strategy was not adopted in 2009. However, U.S. commanders say that some of the most effective U.S. operations consist of Special Operations forces tracking and killing selected key mid-level insurgent commanders, even though such operations were not intended to be the centerpiece of U.S. strategy that was decided in 2009. Some of these operations reportedly involve Afghan commandos trained by U.S. Special Forces and the CIA, bearing such names as the "Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams" and the "Paktika Defense Force." Some believe that there could be a decision to pursue this counter-terrorism strategy more directly, and to include raids across the border into Pakistan, as 2011 progresses.

Critics of the limited counter-terrorism strategy express the view that the Afghan government might collapse and Al Qaeda would have safe haven again in Afghanistan if there are insufficient numbers of U.S. forces there to protect the government. (58) Others believed it would be difficult for President Obama to choose a strategy that could jeopardize the stability of the Afghan government, after having defined Afghan security and stability as a key national interest. Still others say that it would be difficult to identify targets to strike with unmanned or manned aircraft unless there were sufficient forces on the ground to identify targets.

Expand Afghan Forces/Rapid Transition to Afghan Lead

Some advocate a rapid build-up of Afghan security forces and a drawdown of U.S. forces as the Afghan forces ramp up. During the Administration debate over strategy in late 2009, some members of Congress, including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, said publicly that the U.S. focus should be on expanding Afghan security forces capabilities before sending additional U.S. forces.

Legislative Initiatives: Drawdown Plans

In Congress, some have expressed support for efforts, or planning, to wind down the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. In the 111th Congress, H.Con.Res. 248, a resolution introduced by Representative Kucinich to require removal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan not later than December 31, 2010, was defeated in the House by a vote of 65 to 356 on March 10, 2010. Other legislation required the Administration to develop, by January 1, 2011, plans to wind down the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. This provision was voted on in consideration of a FY2010 supplemental appropriation (H.R. 4899), where it failed in the Senate (May 27, 2010) by a vote of 18-80. On July 1, 2010, the House voted 162-260 to reject a plan in that bill to require the Administration to submit, by April 4, 2011, a plan and timetable to redeploy from Afghanistan. Earlier, in House consideration of a FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2647), a similar provision failed on June 25, 2009, by a vote of 138-278.

In the 112th Congress, H.R. 651 requires an agreement with Afghanistan under which U.S. forces redeploy from Afghanistan within one year of entry into that agreement. Other bills requiring a withdrawal include H.Con.Res. 28, H.R. 780, H.R. 5015, and H.Con.Res. 248. The latter bill failed by a vote of 356 to 65 on March 10, 2011.

Concede to the Taliban

Some experts, such as former U.S. Ambassador Robert Blackwill and members of a working group sponsored by the Century Foundation (including former negotiator Lakhdar Brahimi and former high-ranking State Dept. official Thomas Pickering), believe that a preferable strategy would be to work with Pakistan and other neighboring states to reach a political settlement that might be favorable to the Taliban. These plans might involve allowing the Taliban to control large parts of the south and east, where the insurgency is most active, and to work with the Northern Alliance to keep other parts of Afghanistan relatively peaceful. Others believe these plans amount to little more than a managed U.S. defeat and that Al Qaeda and other militants would likely take root in Taliban-controlled areas.
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Title Annotation:Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
Author:Katzman, Kenneth
Publication:Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports and Issue Briefs
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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