From the Strategic Studies Institute's Conversations on Strategy Podcast
The rapid collapse of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in August 2021 was widely anticipated and due to its structural constraints and qualitative decline from 2018–21. This article provides a targeted analysis of ANDSF operational liabilities and qualitative limitations, referencing often overlooked statements by US and Afghan political and military officials, data from official US government reports, and prescient NGO field analyses. The painful ANDSF experience illuminates several principles that must be considered as US policymakers turn toward security force assistance for proxy and surrogate military forces in conflict with the partners of America’s emerging great-power geostrategic competitors—China and Russia.
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Thomas F. (Tom) Lynch III is a Distinguished Research Fellow for South Asia and the Near East at the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies. The opinions expressed here represent his own views and are not those of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the United States government.