Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: RAND Counterinsurgency Study--Volume 4

Seth G. Jones
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 176
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan
    Book Description:

    This study explores the nature of the insurgency in Afghanistan, the key challenges and successes of the U.S.-led counterinsurgency campaign, and the capabilities necessary to wage effective counterinsurgency operations. By examining the key lessons from all insurgencies since World War II, it finds that most policymakers repeatedly underestimate the importance of indigenous actors to counterinsurgency efforts. The U.S. should focus its resources on helping improve the capacity of the indigenous government and indigenous security forces to wage counterinsurgency. It has not always done this well. The U.S. military-along with U.S. civilian agencies and other coalition partners-is more likely to be successful in counterinsurgency warfare the more capable and legitimate the indigenous security forces (especially the police), the better the governance capacity of the local state, and the less external support that insurgents receive.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4520-1
    Subjects: Technology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Table
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xvii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    In 2001, the United States orchestrated a rapid military victory in Afghanistan. A combination of U.S. Special Operations and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) forces, air power, and Afghan indigenous troops overthrew the Taliban regime in less than three months; U.S. forces suffered only a dozen casualties.¹ Some individuals involved in the operation argued that it revitalized the American way of war.² However, this initial success was quickly succeeded by the emergence of a prolonged insurgency as the Taliban, Hezb-i-Islami, the Haqqani network, foreign fighters, local militias, and criminal organizations began a sustained effort to overthrow the new Afghan government. This...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Success in Counterinsurgency Warfare
    (pp. 7-24)

    Most military figures and policymakers—including those in the United States—underestimate the importance of the indigenous government and its security forces in counterinsurgency warfare. This chapter argues that the focus of the U.S. military should beto improve the competence and legitimacy of indigenous actors to conduct counterinsurgency operations. Achieving this goal involves increasing the capacity of indigenous security forces to wage military and nonmilitary operations, improving governance, and undermining external support for insurgents. These steps are critical in winning popular support and ensuring legitimacy for the indigenous government. This chapter begins by critiquing the current thinking on counterinsurgency...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Age of Insurgency
    (pp. 25-36)

    Insurgencies are not new to Afghanistan. This chapter briefly examines Afghanistan’s recent history of insurgency and argues that governance, the capacity of indigenous security forces, and external support have been critical factors in the outcome of these insurgencies. This finding has significant implications for understanding the resurgence of the Taliban that began in 2002.

    In 1973, the royal dynasty that had ruled Afghanistan for more than two centuries fell. Mohammed Daoud deposed his brother-in-law, King Zahir Shah, and declared Afghanistan a republic. Daoud became president, abolished the monarchy, and forced Zahir Shah into exile in Rome. Marxist army officers helped...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Insurgents and Their Support Network
    (pp. 37-66)

    This chapter examines Afghan insurgent groups and their support network in the early stages of the insurgency. It argues that a critical independent variable in the success of any counterinsurgency is outside support for insurgents. The insurgency in Afghanistan included a dangerous combination of local and transnational support. Afghan groups successfully acquired external support and assistance from the global jihadist network, including groups with a strong foothold in Pakistan, such as al Qaeda. They also acquired support from some individuals in the Pakistan government, as well as local tribes, criminal organizations, and militias in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This assistance enabled...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Afghan Government and Security Forces
    (pp. 67-86)

    This chapter examines lessons from the conduct of the Afghan government and security forces. It argues that two critical variables related to the indigenous government impact the success or failure of counterinsurgency operations: the quality of indigenous forces and governance capacity. Key Afghan forces include the ANP, ANA, and a range of allied militia forces such as the Afghan National Auxiliary Police. Building on the argument made in the previous chapter (that insurgents were increasingly able to conduct violence in the south and east of Afghanistan due in large part to external support and sanctuary), this chapter contends that Afghan...

  14. CHAPTER SIX U.S. and Coalition Forces
    (pp. 87-110)

    This chapter examines U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The United States initially played the lead role in the counterinsurgency campaign, though command and control over most international forces shifted to NATO in late 2006. Whereas Chapters Four and Five focused on such critical factors as the role of external support for insurgents, the legitimacy and capacity of the indigenous government, and the quality of local forces, this chapter examines six areas related directly to U.S. efforts:

    building indigenous capacity

    direct action against insurgents


    information operations

    coalition operations

    civil-military affairs.

    It argues that U.S. and coalition efforts had mixed...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Recommendations
    (pp. 111-134)

    The counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan offers a useful opportunity for the U.S. military to develop capabilities to more effectively conduct counterinsurgency operations. The most significant lesson from Afghanistan is the importance of encouraging legitimate and effective indigenous governments and security forces. U.S. military capabilities should focus on leveraging indigenous capabilities and building their capacity to wage a successful counterinsurgency. In some areas, such as air strikes and air mobility, this may be difficult. Most policymakers—including in the United States—repeatedly ignore or underestimate the importance of locals to counterinsurgency warfare. Counterinsurgency requires not only the capability to conduct unconventional...

  16. APPENDIX Insurgencies Since 1945
    (pp. 135-138)
  17. References
    (pp. 139-156)
  18. About the Author
    (pp. 157-158)