New ISW Reports Examine What U.S. Must Accomplish in Afghanistan

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tricia Miller tmiller@understandingwar.org 202-293-5550 x 210 March 19, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Institute for the Study of War has published three products examining the conflict in Afghanistan in preparation for ISAF Commander General John Allen’s testimony on Capitol Hill this week.  He will testify before the House and Senate Armed Services committees to help U.S. policymakers discuss the future of the mission in Afghanistan. America’s core national security objectives in the region require a stable and secure Afghanistan that prevents the return of al Qaeda and its affiliates, as President Barack Obama has stated.

First, ISW has published a new report on the Haqqani Network, the most dangerous insurgent group operating in Afghanistan, which works closely with al Qaeda and its affiliates. The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat charts the spread of the Haqqani network in eastern Afghanistan.  Its author, ISW Senior Research Analyst Jeffrey Dressler, wrote the authoritative 2010 report The Haqqani Network: From Pakistan to Afghanistan and has spent time in-country.

“The United States and its Afghan partners must dismantle the Haqqani Network’s strongholds in Khost, Paktika, and Paktia and contain the organization’s expansion toward Kabul prior to a shift in mission,” Dressler writes. “Failure to do so will present a strategic threat to U.S. national security interests in Afghanistan.”

Research Analyst Isaac Hock also looks at what remains to be done in eastern Afghanistan in a new fact sheet. The surge forces that went to Afghanistan beginning in 2009 focused first on Kandahar and Helmand.  They still need to shift to the East and conduct an offensive in the critical provinces around Kabul. That reallocation of effort not yet occurred. Hock lists four critical tasks that remain for the campaign seasons of 2012 and 2013: dismantling Haqqani strongholds in Khost and Paktia, expanding the Kabul security bubble, linking Kabul and Kandahar City via Highway 1, and disrupting al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Kunar and Nuristan.

Senior Research Analyst Paraag Shukla, who served as a civilian in Afghanistan in 2010, provides background on the progress toward a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan in a second fact sheet

“Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced on March 11, 2012 that he would sign a strategic partnership agreement with the United States before the next NATO summit in May,” he writes. “The United States’ reaffirmation of its commitment to Afghanistan through a strategic partnership agreement will enable Washington to help sustain a stable and secure Afghanistan after the planned drawdown in 2014.”

ISW President Kimberly Kagan has also spent extensive time in Afghanistan since 2009, working on General Stanley McChrystal’s strategic review and assisting General David Petraeus when he commanded ISAF.

 To talk to an Afghanistan analyst, please contact Tricia Miller at press@understandingwar.org or at (202) 293-5550 x210.

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The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization. ISW advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives.

 

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