Afghanistan: 5,000 Troops are not Enough

The White House is dropping strong hints that the number of American troops in Afghanistan after 2014 may fall below 10,000, possibly even below 5,000. Unnamed White House officials suggested to the press that lower levels of U.S. support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be sufficient to contain future Taliban threats.

Afghanistan Order of Battle

The Afghanistan ORBAT describes the location and area of responsibility of all American units in Afghanistan, down to the battalion level, updated as of October 2015.

Why U.S. Troops Must Stay in Afghanistan

Will the United States continue to conduct counterterrorism operations in South Asia? That question is central to any discussion about U.S. troop presence and mission in Afghanistan.

The Northern Alliance Prepares for Afghan Elections in 2014

Afghan history suggests that any stable political accommodation after 2014 will be contingent upon incorporating Jamiat-e Islami. The engagement of key Jamiat-e Islami politicians will be critical to a smooth regime transition in Afghanistan post-Karzai.

How many troops does the U.S. need in Afghanistan?

Three thousand troops are not sufficient to keep even a single U.S. military base in Afghanistan after 2014. This report, released jointly with AEI's Critical Threats Project, describes how to calculate the force requirements for keeping one base in Afghanistan.

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The Afghanistan Project at the Institute for the Study of War produces detailed publications on the changing security and political dynamics in Afghanistan. Research analysts document the pattern of enemy activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan; military operations by Coalition and Afghan forces; the implications of the drawdown of Surge forces; and the political, economic, and demographic dynamics underlying the conflict.

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Afghanistan Threat Assessment: The Taliban and ISIS

This map partially depicts areas of Taliban control and support and ISIS presence across Afghanistan as of December 10, 2015 as well as the status of district centers that have been attacked by Taliban militants in 2015. ISW will update this map as ground conditions change and as analysts continue to assess support zones.

ISIS in Afghanistan: December 3, 2015

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)’s affiliate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is effective, operational, and positioned to expand. The affiliate, Wilayat Khorasan, controls populated areas in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province and has launched attacks on Jalalabad and Kabul.

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What’s Missing From Obama’s Counterterrorism Strategy

Partnership can indeed be a component of an effective strategy for countering terrorism. But partnership requires effective partners. This missing ingredient in Mr. Obama’s strategy will be its downfall.

The Folly of Abandoning Afghanistan

If America's experience in Iraq offers any single, unambiguous lesson, it is the folly of just walking away. The United States must not repeat this mistake in Afghanistan. Isolation and disengagement have severely damaged American credibility and security, as can be seen most dramatically in Ukraine today.