Counterterrorism in Afghanistan: Aligning Resources and Goals
This work made publicly available electronically on March 22, 2012.
After US Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] and Special Operations Forces [SOF] counterterrorism [CT] operations routed al Qaeda and the Taliban regime, planning for the next phase was underway. It was determined that security and stability operations or counterinsurgency [COIN] operations would be necessary to stabilize the country. Soon after transitioning from CT to COIN operations, COIN operations stalled. Several factors have played a part in the unsuccessful attempts at COIN. First, the Global War on Terror [GWOT] campaign was designed to address a narrow set of goals including destroying, dismantling, and disrupting al Qaeda and its affiliates. Second, US leaders have consistently undermanned the effort with a light military footprint. Next, the various forces continuing CT operations have remained uncoordinated from Joint Forces pursuing the COIN operation. Presently, US financial and political support for the conflict is rapidly declining. With US leaders already beginning troop withdrawals, it is imperative that the US adjust its strategy. Narrowing the focus back to a CT campaign will maximize the available resources and cut back on associated costs. Finally, a CT strategy will keep terror networks off balance, buying time to allow US forces to build Afghan security forces necessary for long-term stability.