The Afghan Project

Staff Sgt. Francis Macale secures the landing zone from flickr/us army http://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/3948271448/

The Afghan Project analyzes the course of the Afghan War. It provides an independent critique of Transition, reporting on military progress in the war, the security challenges Afghanistan faces, and the major problems in Afghanistan’s politics, governance, and economy.

The Afghan War in 2013: Meeting the Challenges of Transition:

The four volumes include:

  • Executive Summary: A brief outline of the major conclusions of the analysis. To download the PDF of the Executive Summary, click here http://csis.org/files/publication/130326_afghan_war_in_2013_exec_sum.pdf.
     
  • Volume I: Leadership and Governance: This volume provides a warning that the growing challenges posed by the absence of strong Afghan leadership, the coming election, and problems in governance at every level present as much of a challenge to successful Transition as do the insurgents. Volume I warns that Afghans must take more responsibility for their own destiny and do so almost immediately after the spring 2014 election. It also warns that aid and military support must be conditional enough to push the Afghans toward real progress. To download the PDF of Volume I, click here http://csis.org/files/publication/130326_afghan_war_in_2013_vol_I.pdf.
     
  • Volume II: Aid and Economics: This volume challenges assumptions that Afghanistan does not face a major crisis in aid and in its economy as US and ISAF troops largely withdraw. Volume II warns that the economic threat to Transition is also all too real. It also indicates, however, that Afghanistan may well be able to succeed if it lives up to the pledges of reform that it has already made; if donors hold the Afghan government accountable for its actions; and if donors live up to their pledges. It calls for major improvements in the quality of the current level of economic analysis, and in the way aid is planned, managed, and subjected to meaningful measures of effectiveness. To download the PDF of Volume II, click here http://csis.org/files/publication/130327_afghan_war_in_2013_vol_II.pdf.
     
  • Volume III: SECURITY AND THE ANSF: This volume addresses the major problems that created misleading and politicized reporting on the security situation in Afghanistan through February 2013. It highlights the reforms needed to produce honest and transparent reporting of the security situation, including changes in the way progress is managed and reported by the various elements of the ANSF. At the same time, Volume III demonstrates there are real signs of progress, and a shift to a layered defense may allow the ANSF to successfully carry out transition if they focus on real security needs, are given sufficient outside aid, and if the US and its allies provide the mix of post-2014 advisors, partners, and enablers the ANSF will still need. To download the PDF of Volume III, click here http://csis.org/files/publication/130327_afghan_war_in_2013_vol_III.pdf.
     

Major Reports:

Testimony to the House Armed Service Committee: The Uncertain Role of the ANSF in Transition-Establishing Real World Criteria and Metrics: Anthony H. Cordesman’s February 2013 testimony to the House Armed Service Committee examines the effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and the prospects of a successful Transition. The report investigates the challenges of establishing stable leadership and funding for the coming years, the absence of reliable metrics, poor coordination among Afghan police and security forces, and civil and economic conditions which threaten to undermine a smooth post-2014 Transition. The comprehensive report covers these issues and more through charts, graphs, and in-depth analysis.

The Mindless Debate over Future U.S. Military Manpower in Afghanistan: Looks at critical issues in US and allied troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and analyses how realistic substantial progress and Transition are likely to be. Also, this report examines the role of civilian agencies and the need to consider a variety of issues in order to provide a coherent, transparent plan regarding the US’s commitment to a post-2014 Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: Meeting the Real World Challenges of Transition: Offers an overview of the current trends, implications, and likely issues in  Transition, focusing on the potential capabilities of the Afghan government and international commitments. The need for realism in US and allied planning as well as significantly improved Afghan governance, economics, security forces, and leadership are also discussed.

The War In Afghanistan at the End of 2012: The Uncertain Course of the War and Transition:
Provides a progress report on the Afghan war as of the end of 2012, emphasizing problems in government reporting and metrics available to the public. Issues of transparency, credibility, integrity, and politicization are addressed.

Six Conditions for an Effective Transfer of Power in Afghanistan
: This report outlines the six key conditions necessary for a successful and realistic approach to the transfer of power in Afghanistan during the Transition period from 2013-2015:

The Afghan War: Creating the Economic Conditions and Civil-Military Aid Efforts Needed For Transition: A detailed analysis of the progress, problems, and challenge in creating an effective civil and military aid effort, finding workable solutions to creating Afghan forces, and dealing with the problems created for the Afghan politics, economy, and governance by the coming cuts in aid and military spending. It provides a detailed analysis of impact of corruption and a narco-economy, faults in the analysis leading to the Tokyo Conference, and the dangers of unrealistic solutions like the “New Silk Road:” 

Back to the "Body Count:" The Lack of Reliable Data on the Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan: Compares current ISAF, DoD, UN, NCTC, and other reporting on the war. It finds that the sources are in serious conflict, that some lack credibility or relevance to measuring the course of an insurgency, and other repeat some of the mistakes made in reporting during the Vietnam War:

Afghanistan: Green on Blue Attacks Are Only a Small Part of the Problem: Examines the overall trends in casualties and violence, the problems in current metrics, and the need to look beyond narrow indicators like green on blue attacks or numbers of forces killed.

Transition in the Afghanistan-Pakistan War: How Does This War End? A detailed analysis of the problems in Transition and terminating the war, and in the current war effort.

U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: The Impact of Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Pakistan: analyzes Iran’s current role in Afghanistan and the region, and the potential threat it poses to Transition and the post 2014 US role in the region.

Afghanistan: The Failed Metrics of Ten Years of War: surveys the problems in a decade worth of metric on the war using charts and tables taken from a wide variety of official reports and sources.

Pakistan: Violence vs. Stability - A National Net Assessment: provides a detailed look at Pakistan’s internal stability and why its goals and strategy differ from that of the US.

Creating the New Plans and Assessment Systems Needed for the Afghan Security Forces and a Successful Transition: provides an analysis of the strengths and weakness of the efforts to develop the Afghan national security forces, and of the challenges to come in Transition. This Commentary is based on testimony delivered by Anthony Cordesman to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on July 24, 2012.

Afghanistan: The Failing Economics of Transition: provides a detailed analysis of the sttrengths and weakness of US, World Bank, Afghan, and other assessments of the economic of Transition. July 19, 2012.

Afghanistan and the Tokyo Conference: Hope, Fantasy, and Failure: outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the failures of the Tokyo Conference in providing a meaningful economic and aid path toward Transition.

The US Cost of the Afghan War: FY2002-FY2013: Cost in Military Operating Expenditures and Aid, and Prospects for "Transition” provides an overview of the cost of the Afghan conflict through FY2013, highlighting the trends in spending by major area, and the strengths and weaknesses in the data available.


Note: The project focuses on the steady development of working documents that are revised on an ongoing basis. As a result, all of the material provided in this section should be regarded as working material that is subject to update. To provide suggestions corrections to any material, please send your comments to Anthony H. Cordesman at acordesman@csis.org. The project does have a wide range of additional reporting on the history of the strategy, analyses, and metrics of the war dating back to the early years of the conflict, and focusing in detail on developments since the McChrystal review of the war. While staff resources are limited, it may be possible to provide such material in some cases.