ISW on the State of Our Forces

Contact: Stepahnie Robson
202-253-1150 cell
January 25, 2011

As President Obama prepares to address both houses of Congress and the nation in his second State of the Union address, he will no doubt discuss the status of the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. ISW is dedicated to advancing an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research and trusted analysis. Below is a brief analysis of the State of Our Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr. Kimberly Kagan, ISW President  

  • One year after President Barack Obama’s decision to adopt the current strategy and send additional resources to support it, there is reason to have confidence in that strategy even as there are continuing causes for concern. The troops of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have done unprecedented damage to the insurgency within Afghanistan in 2010. The true test of this year’s progress, however, will come in the summer of 2011 when we can better judge the extent to which the enemy has been able to rally and re-attack areas that we believe we have secured. Full analysis here.

Jeffrey Dressler, ISW Research Analyst

  • "The situation in Afghanistan today is fundamentally different than where we were in 2009. In just two years, coalition and Afghan forces have reversed the insurgency's momentum in southern Afghanistan and made real strides in the southeast. Although there are significant challenges ahead, including governance, narcotics and foreign sponsorship of Afghan insurgents, we must recognize progress where we see it."

On Pakistan

  • "Real gains have been made throughout the south and east. Despite this, Pakistan's support for Afghan insurgents continues to be a unsettling arrangement. Progress against these groups in Afghanistan and the coalition and Afghan government's commitment to success appears to be the best way to help change Pakistan's calculus. Continuing a transactional relationship involving military and financial assistance may help to stabilize the Pakistani state, but will not, by itself, change Pakistan's calculus vis-à-vis Afghan insurgent groups."

Carl Forsberg, ISW Research Analyst

  • "In 2010, the U.S. and its allies made battlefield gains and set in place a transition strategy that aims to hand-off security responsibilities to the Afghan government by 2014. Recent military gains, however, are only a positive first step; there is much fighting and negotiation left to do. The success of the U.S. transition plan will ultimately depend on whether the Afghan Government and Security Forces can, with international assistance, maintain their cohesion, recover lost legitimacy, and secure their country."

Marisa Cochrane Sullivan, ISW Deputy Director

  • "With the Security Agreement in Iraq set to expire at the end of this year, it is now critical to define the nature of the U.S.-Iraq security relationship post-2011. Both Iraqi and U.S. military personnel believe that the Iraqi Security Forces will need additional training beyond 2011, but the mechanism for security this continued partnership is still uncertain. As this matter is debated both in Washington and Baghdad, we must understand the security requirements in Iraq after this year and account for U.S. strategic interests in Iraq post-2011."

For media inquiries or to interview an ISW scholar, please contact Stephanie Robson at 202-253-1150 or [email protected].

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.