ISW Releases Groundbreaking Report on Eastern Afghanistan

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Contact: Megan Ortagus
(863) 398-8164
July 28, 2009

ISW's Afghanistan Report 1 details the tumultuous history of Kunar and Nuristan while reconsidering current assumptions on the U.S. mission in those provinces.

Washington, D.C. - The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) today released a compelling report in their Afghanistan Project series, Kunar and Nuristan - Rethinking U.S. Counterinsurgency Operations, written by Michael Moore and James Fussell. A first in what will be a continuing ISW series on Afghanistan, Moore and Fussell suggest U.S. forces in Kunar and Nuristan should adopt a counterinsurgency mission that requires less interdiction on the borders and greater security in the population centers. Additionally, the report provides an overview of Kunar and Nuristan’s strategic importance, current U.S. force dispositions and the enemy syndicate.

ISW's Afghanistan Report 1: KUNAR and NURISTAN - Rethinking U.S. Counterinsurgency Operationscan be found here:

"We saw a rapid success with traditional counterinsurgency theory being implemented in Iraq but Afghanistan is unique, like every war, and requires a new way of thinking” explained co-author James Fussell. "Understanding the complexities of each province is a prerequisite for developing a campaign plan tailored to win a war in one of the most challenging environments the U.S. has ever operated in."

Key research from this backgrounder includes:

  • In the Korengal, the presence of U.S. forces exacerbates tensions resulting in hostility and facilitates violence in the region, negating the U.S. efforts to bring stability and security.
  • Rather than maintaining positions in the Korengal and many of the small, ineffective posts that dot the Pech River Valley, U.S. forces should conduct active patrols in the populated areas of the lower Kunar River Valley.
  • Additional emphasis must be placed on U.S. forces demonstrating the immediate and tangible benefits of their presence in the region. Short term humanitarian assistance such as medical and dental aid, radios, and blankets must be paired with long term economic development projects.

Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution whose goal is to educate current and future decision makers and thereby enhance the quality of policy debates. The Institute's work is addressed to government officials and legislators, teachers and students, business executives, professionals, journalists, and all citizens interested in a serious understanding of war and government