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Afghanistan: In search of a strategy

  • HVC 201, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (map)


The perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, attacks had to face justice. An authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against them became law within a week. U.S. troops began hunting down al Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban protectors in Afghanistan within a month. NATO invoked its Article V mutual defense provision for the first and only time.

Sixteen years and two presidents later, nearly 10,000 American troops are still there. The Trump administration has been reviewing the mission and appears poised to decide about the future of operations there, including the possible deployment of additional U.S. soldiers.

The initial mission made sense, but is further commitment from the American people warranted? What are our vital national security interests in Afghanistan? What is the strategy behind the proposed troop surge, and what objectives would they seek to accomplish? What demands should fall on the government in Kabul in exchange for continued investments from the U.S.? What does success look like, and what is the estimated timeline?