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USAID and American “Whole-of-Government” Efforts in Afghanistan, 2004-2005

USAID had to cooperate closely with the U.S. military and others in a “whole-of-government” effort to stabilize and develop Afghanistan in 2004-05.  That meant managing a $1 billion budget, working 16 hours days, and asking majors and lieutenant colonels to help plan and execute civilian projects.  For USAID mission director Patrick Fine, that also meant […]

A Reluctant Welcome From Notorious Warlords in Afghanistan

A USAID officer secured a meeting with two senior and notorious Afghan warlords in the late 1980s when he appeared as an unexpected (and unwanted) guest in their homes. Adhering to the Pashtun code of conduct requiring hospitality be offered to every guest.  Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Abdul Rasul Sayaaf reluctantly — but courteously — welcomed […]

The Saur Revolution: Prelude to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

The government of Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan came to a violent end in what was called the Saur Revolution when insurgent troops led by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan [PDPA] stormed his Kabul palace on April 27, 1978. Daoud had taken power five years before by overthrowing and exiling his cousin, King Zahir […]

Counterinsurgency in Eastern Afghanistan 2004-2008: Development

Chronic instability, beginning before the Soviet invasion, helped destroy Afghanistan’s already underdeveloped economy. After 9/11, the United States dedicated billions of dollars and significant human effort in the eastern part of the country and elsewhere in the form of aid, infrastructure projects, agriculture development, and investment in education. A number of agencies — including the Department […]

Counterinsurgency in Eastern Afghanistan 2004-2008 — An Overview

It is impossible to understand the War in Afghanistan, now the longest war in American history, much less the motives for the United States to lead this international engagement, without first understanding Afghanistan itself and considering the historical context preceding and surrounding the war. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States’ foreign […]

Counterinsurgency in Eastern Afghanistan — Security

In December 2001, as per the Bonn Agreement signed in reaction to the September 11 attacks, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) created the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for a mission of security and state-building in Afghanistan. The purpose was to train Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), stabilize the government of Afghanistan (GOA), and […]

Counterinsurgency in Eastern Afghanistan — Governance

After 9/11, the United States recognized the instability within made Afghanistan a sanctuary and breeding ground for terrorism — evident in the growing presence of al-Qaeda in the eastern half of the country. U.S. policy pivoted from containment to counterterrorism (CT) and counter-insurgency (COIN) and focused on the three pillars of security, governance, and economic development. […]

The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan — December 1979

It was to last nearly a decade and would plant the seeds for the rise of the Taliban and Islamic terrorism and the subsequent invasion by the U.S. more than 20 years later.  On December 24, 1979, the Soviet Union sent thousands of troops into Afghanistan and immediately assumed complete military and political control of […]