Even with an agreement between the United States and the Taliban uncertain for now, an eventual intra-Afghan peace process will still need to address many critical challenges—including the reintegration of former fighters and their families. Life in a post-settlement Afghanistan could involve an estimated 60,000 full-time Taliban fighters returning to civilian life. There may also be efforts to demobilize other armed groups that have been fighting the Taliban. And if ex-combatants are not accepted by their communities or are unable to find a new livelihood, they may be vulnerable to recruitment by criminal groups or terrorist organizations like the Islamic State.

To address this vital but often overlooked issue and assist U.S. policymakers and agencies as they craft an approach to reintegration, the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has produced the agency’s seventh “Lessons Learned” program report. 

On September 18, USIP and SIGAR held the official launch of “Reintegration of Ex-Combatants: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan.” The event included a keynote address by Special Inspector General John Sopko, followed by a panel discussion on the report’s findings and recommendations—both for the ongoing insurgency and for a post-settlement Afghanistan. Continue the conversation with #SIGAR.

Speakers

John Sopko, keynote address
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction 

Kate Bateman
Project Lead for Reintegration, Lessons Learned Program, SIGAR

Erica Gaston 
Non-Resident fellow, Global Public Policy Institute 

Timor Sharan
Deputy Minister for Policy and Technical Affairs, Independent Directorate of Local Governance 

Johnny Walsh
Senior Expert, Afghanistan, U.S Institute of Peace

Scott Worden, moderator
Director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs, United States Institute of Peace 

Related Publications

What Can the Taliban Learn From Past Afghan Conquests and Collapses?

What Can the Taliban Learn From Past Afghan Conquests and Collapses?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

The Taliban’s lightning conquest of Afghanistan caught many people by surprise, perhaps including the Taliban themselves. However, it is not the country’s first episode of an unexpectedly quick military victory and consequent rapid change in regime. Historical examples may provide relevant lessons for the victorious Taliban as they begin to govern the country, including pitfalls to be avoided in their own and the nation’s interest.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & Resilience

Five Questions on the Taliban’s Caretaker Government

Five Questions on the Taliban’s Caretaker Government

Thursday, September 9, 2021

By: Andrew Watkins

As part of the Taliban’s bid to re-establish the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the militant group announced the line up for its caretaker government on Tuesday. Despite several leading Taliban figures saying the movement would govern in a more moderate and inclusive fashion, the acting appointments made this week were mostly old guard members who played similar roles when the group ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s. USIP’s Andrew Watkins discusses who the key players are, what it signals about the Taliban’s commitment to inclusivity, the key challenges the government will face and how the West and regional countries should engage.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

After Taliban Takeover, Can Afghanistan’s Economy Survive?

After Taliban Takeover, Can Afghanistan’s Economy Survive?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

The Taliban’s unexpectedly rapid and complete victory over the now defunct Islamic Republic of Afghanistan brings with it yet another shock to the long-suffering Afghan people and the country’s very weak economy. Already plagued by insecurity, COVID, corruption, government over-centralization and mismanagement, declining revenues and drought, the Afghan economy will now face a host of challenges in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover and the international community cracking down on aid and assistance. As a new Afghan government takes shape, the actions of the Taliban and the response of the international community could greatly exacerbate or modestly ameliorate the current economic and humanitarian crises.

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Economics & Environment

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