The war in Afghanistan is at a critical stage. There is no clear end in sight that will result in a U.S. military victory or in the creation of stable Afghan state. A peace settlement may be possible, but so far, this only seems possible on terms sufficiently favorable to the Taliban so that such peace may simply become an extension of war by other means and allow the Taliban to exploit it to the point where it comes to control at least large parts of the country.
CSIS is issuing a survey of the key indicators now shaping the course of the war. It is entitled ‘A War in Crisis: Afghanistan in Mid-2019.’
The survey presents a wide range of open source material drawn from U.S. government sources, NATO reporting, institutions like the UN and World Bank, and media sources as diverse as the Long War Journal and New York Times. It warns that after some eighteen years of conflict, the United States has not developed an approach to the war that can defeat the Taliban, ISIS, and the other threats in Afghanistan.
The war is close to a stalemate but is one that marginally favors the Taliban – and does so in spite of massive ongoing U.S. air, financial, and advisory support. The survey also warns that the U.S. has failed to help the Afghan government overcome its many critical military and civil limitations and is still unable to choose and implement some form of consistent U.S. strategy.
The data and metric indicate that:
-- Open source reporting on the course of the fighting is highly controversial – to the point where the U.S-led command seems to be cancelling reporting on Afghan government vs. Taliban control and influence and no longer reports on many aspects of ANSF operational capabilities. Excerpts from SIGAR, Lead IG, and Long War Journal reporting are particularly revealing.
-- There still is a critical lack of progress in key aspects of Afghan government forces, governance, and economic development and little reason to believe the situation will improve strikingly in the foreseeable future.
-- These problems in the war effort exist in spite of continued Afghan dependence on massive U.S military aid, major increases in the use of U.S. airpower, continued U.S. support of key Afghan ground forces, and forward U.S. train and assist support of other Afghan combat forces at the Kandak level.
-- Other metrics and data highlight long list of equally critical uncertainties, many of which raise further questions about U.S. capability to create a stable Afghanistan.
Click here for the full report (187 PDF pages), on the CSIS website.