Dr. David Kilcullen and Dr. Andrew Wilder explore the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the relationship between successful counter-insurgency operations and state-building efforts.

The U.S. has poured nearly 17,000 additional troops as well as significant new civilian and financial resources into the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. These first tangible elements of the new Obama administration counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan are facing intense resistance from the Taliban as the country prepares for national elections on August 20th.

Does the current approach in Afghanistan match the population-centric theory of counter-insurgency articulated in the much lauded 2007 U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual? Is the bumper-sticker premise of ‘Clear-Hold-Build’ the right approach for Afghanistan? Is there a direct, positive correlation between “development” and “security” in the Afghan context?

David Kilcullen and Andrew Wilder discussed current efforts in Afghanistan, especially in the volatile South, exploring the links between successful counter-insurgency operations, economic development, and state-building efforts, and analyzing whether the Afghan government and international community have the capacity to ensure sufficient development progress.

Speakers

  • David Kilcullen
    Former COIN Advisor to General David Petraeus and Secretary Condolezza Rice
    Author, The Accidental Guerilla” (Oxford, 2009)
  • Andrew Wilder
    Former Director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU)
    Research Director, Feinstein International Center at Tufts University
  • J Alexander Thier, Moderator
    Senior Rule of Law Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace

Archived Multimedia

To listen to audio, please click on the link provided below. You also can right click on the links and choose "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File." This will save the file to your computer and then allow you to play it in your media player directly.

To watch video, please click on the link provided below to open the video within your web browser.

Related Publications

Afghanistan’s Economic and Humanitarian Crises Turn Dire

Afghanistan’s Economic and Humanitarian Crises Turn Dire

Thursday, October 14, 2021

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

Two months after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the country is grappling with twin economic and humanitarian crises the response to which has been complicated by international aid cutoffs, the freezing of Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves and sanctions on the militants. USIP’s William Byrd discusses the implications of these crises and the challenges to alleviating them.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & Resilience; Economics & Environment

Taliban Seek Recognition, But Offer Few Concessions to International Concerns

Taliban Seek Recognition, But Offer Few Concessions to International Concerns

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

By: Andrew Watkins; Ambassador Richard Olson; Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.; Kate Bateman

Since taking power in August, the Taliban have repeatedly expressed the expectation that the international community will recognize their authority as the new government of Afghanistan and have taken several procedural steps to pursue recognition. But the group has done very little to demonstrate a willingness to meet the conditions put forward by Western powers and some regional states. USIP’s Andrew Watkins, Richard Olson, Asfandyar Mir and Kate Bateman assess the latest Taliban efforts to win international recognition, the position of Pakistan and other key regional players and options for U.S. policy to shape Taliban behavior and the engagement decisions of other international partners.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy; Reconciliation

China and the U.S. Exit from Afghanistan: Not a Zero-Sum Outcome

China and the U.S. Exit from Afghanistan: Not a Zero-Sum Outcome

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

By: Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.

It has become fashionable to characterize recent events in Afghanistan as a loss for the United States and a win for China. This zero-sum interpretation framed in the narrow context of U.S.-China relations is too simplistic and off the mark. The reality is far more complex and nuanced. The end of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and the collapse of that country’s pro-Western government do not automatically translate into significant Chinese gains, nor do they trigger a swift Beijing swoop to fill the vacuum in Kabul left by Washington.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

What Does IS-K’s Resurgence Mean for Afghanistan and Beyond?

What Does IS-K’s Resurgence Mean for Afghanistan and Beyond?

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

By: Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.

Last month’s bombing outside the Kabul airport was a devastating sign of the Islamic State of Khorasan Province’s (IS-K) recent resurgence. The group had already launched 77 attacks in the first four months of 2021 — an increase from 21 in the same period last year. This renewed capacity for mass-casualty attacks could further destabilize Afghanistan’s already precarious security situation, leaving both the new Taliban government and the United States with a vested interest in mounting an effective campaign to undercut IS-K’s presence in the region. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism

View All Publications