Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
On 21 November 1878, the British invaded Afghanistan, defeated the Afghan Army, and installed a new government. Over the following years Afghan resistance grew, ultimately resulting in British withdrawal. Years later the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, seized control of the central government, and replaced it with a socialist regime. Thereafter the Mujahadeen resistance grew, forcing the Soviets withdrawal in 1989. Two decades later a US-led coalition overthrew the Taliban and supported establishment of a democratic government. Over the next eleven years, the resistance has grown and now, in 2013, the conclusion of another conflict in Afghanistan is unclear.As the Coalition enters its thirteenth year in Afghanistan, there are questions about our objectives, the approach, and chances for success. This paper seeks to answer these questions. It argues that Afghan stability will only be achieved through a long-term approach using a single, small, civil-military command, supporting civilian-led efforts to improve governmental capacity, linking the central government to rural Afghans.It does so by explaining why continued Coalition efforts in Afghanistan are so important, in light of an unstable region with violent extremists, and nuclear weapons. This work then describes the current situation in Afghanistan and bordering Pakistan both countries having inept, corrupt governments, Islamic fundamentalists, and ungoverned areas. This paper continues by describing previous attempts at stabilizing the region by the Soviets. This includes their approach to security, military advisory missions, developmental efforts, educational programs, and governmental reform. The ongoing conflict, spanning multiple decades, is examined, describing the numerous factors which have torn the fabric of Afghan society, leaving a fractured state in its wake.This paper compares Soviet methods and results to those of the current coalition, showing they mirror one another in many ways.