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Afghanistan-Prospect for Tansition May 2012

Afghanistan-Prospect for Tansition May 2012

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Published by Afgreporter
Afghanistan- This is a research on the prospect for the transition process in Afghanistan- "Beating A retreat". The paper has been published just few days before the NATO Summit in Chicago May 21,2012. This is critical assessement of the earlier NATO strategy in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan- This is a research on the prospect for the transition process in Afghanistan- "Beating A retreat". The paper has been published just few days before the NATO Summit in Chicago May 21,2012. This is critical assessement of the earlier NATO strategy in Afghanistan.

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Published by: Afgreporter on May 18, 2012
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BarbaraJStapleton
BEATINGARETREAT
ProspectsfortheTransitionProcessinAfghanistan
EXECUTIVESUMMARY
TheUSanditsalliesinNATOarenowbeatingaretreatfromAfghanistan.AlthoughthereareplansforacontinuingUS-ledcounterterrorismstrategyintheregion,thephasedtransferoffullresponsibilityforsecurity,governanceanddevelopmenttotheAfghangovernment,itsforcesandpeopleisunderway.Butafteroneyearofatransitionprocessthatstartedin2011,andwillofficiallybecompletedbytheendof2014,concernsaremountingovertheformidablechallengesfacingthetransitionandwhetheritwillsucceedindeliveringitsobjective:aself-sustainingAfghanstate.TheinterventionbytheUS-ledcoalitioninAfghanistanhasbeenshapedbythefactthatitwasbasedontworelatedagendas:tocounterterrorismandtobuildaviablestatetopreventAfghanistanagainbecomingahavenforAlQaedaanditsassociates.Theseagendashaveneverbeenfullyreconciledandhaveoftenactedatcrosspurposes.DespiteclaimsbysomeWesterndiplomatsthattheinternationalengagementinAfghanistanhasbeenover-ambitiousinscope,inrealitythestate-buildingprocesswasnevergiventhefightingchanceitneededtosucceedandthatthemajorityofAfghans,wantingstabilityanddevelopment,hadexpectedandhopedfor.Theinterventionveeredfrom‘toolittletoolate’initscrucialearlyyears,tooneof‘toomuchtoolate’.Thispeakedin2010withthetemporarycommitmentofadditionalUSmilitaryandfinancialresourcestoenableanintensifiedcounterinsurgency(COIN)militarycampaignthatprominentfiguresintheUSmilitaryhadarguedwouldavertahighlydamagingdefeatwhilesavingAfghanistanfromitself.Theseefforts,however,stillfailedtotacklethecausesunderlyingthecountry’sdeepeningproblems.GrowingoppositionwithinkeyNATOmemberstatestoacontinuingmilitaryengagementinAfghanistan,donorfatigueandtheglobalfinancialcrisisarecriticalfactorsinformingthestatementsbyWesterndiplomatsthatnowstressthelimitsofwhattheinternationalcommunitywillguaranteeinAfghanistan.Thetransitionstrategyispresentedbythemasarealisticandresponsibleone,onthebasisthatby2015theAfghangovernmentandsecurityforceswillbeinapositiontotakeresponsibilityforsecurity,governanceanddevelopmentatlevelsthatare‘goodenough’toensurereasonablypositiveprospectsforstability.However,tosucceedinreachingitsobjective,thetransitionprocesscannotbedivorcedfromactualconditionsonthegroundwithrespecttosecurity,governanceanddevelopment.Implementationofthetransitionwithouttheseconditionsbeingsufficientlyinplace,incombinationwiththebrevityofatransitiontimelinethatislikelytobeacceleratedfurther,increasestheriskoftheAfghanstate’scollapseandwithit,theprospectofstrategicfailureforNATO.IntherushtogetoutofthequagmirethatAfghanistanhasbecome,theUS
 
AANThematicReport01/2012
2
BarbaraJStapleton:BeatingaRetreat
andotherNATOmemberstatesmaybepreparingthegroundformoreinstabilitythere,ratherthanless.ThepredicamentnowfacingtheUSanditsNATOalliesisthat,whileweighingthecostsoffailureinAfghanistanthatwouldhaveprofoundeffectsontheregionandbeyond,politicalpressureismountingdomesticallyforaswifterexit.IncreasingAfghanhostilitytotheinternationalmilitarypresenceposesafurtherdilemma,decreasingNATO’sroomformanoeuvreovertheoptionofextendingthetransitiontimeline.TheviolentAfghanresponseinFebruary2012tothediscoverythatcopiesoftheQuranhadbeenincineratedonaUSmilitarybaseandthemassacreof17Afghancivilians,allegedlybyoneUSsoldierinMarch2012,havefurtherstrengthenedperceptionsamongsomeWesternpolicy-makersthattheinternationalmilitaryexitfromAfghanistanshouldbeexpedited.Theten-year‘EnduringStrategicPartnershipAgreement’(SPA)signedbytheUSandAfghanPresidentsonMay1thisyearlacksclearguaranteesorconsequencesshouldthecommitmentsmadethereinnotbemet.TheAgreementisonlyafirststepinafurthertwelvemonthlongnegotiatingprocessbetweenthetwogovernmentsontheexactnatureoftheAfghan/USmilitaryrelationship.ThisislikelytoproveanevenmorefraughtprocessthanreachingtheSPA,withkeyaspects,suchasthequestionofthelegalimmunityofUSforcesinAfghanistanaftertheendof2014,tobedecided.NATO/ISAFeffortsarefocusedonthemainlymilitaryprocessthatisgoverningthephasedsecuritytransitionandonsettinginplacethesecurityconditionsforaself-sustainingAfghanstate.ThemainstrandsofitstransitionstrategyaretoreducetheinsurgentthreatinordertoimprovesecurityandtheoreticallyenabletheAfghangovernmenttoexpandgovernanceandservicedeliverythroughoutthecountry.Butplansunderwaytodothis,throughanintensifiedcounterinsurgencycampaignandbybuildinguptheAfghanNationalSecurityForces(ANSF)numbersandcapabilities,areincreasinglyviewedasvulnerableatbestandtransientatworst.ThoughAfghanistan’sbestchanceofavoidinganarchyfollowingthewithdrawalofinternationalforcesiswidelyrecognisedtodependontheANSF’seffectiveness,itstillremainsunclearhowthefundingshortfallfacedbytheAfghangovernmentinresourcingitsscaled-upsecurityforceswillbebridged,beyondtheshort-term.TheimminentreductionofAfghanforces,possiblybyasmuchasone-third,isbeingactivelydiscussedwithinNATO,underminingthecredibilityofthetransitionstrategy.Prospectsforan‘irreversible’transitionalsodependoninternationalsupportfortheAfghansecurityforcesfollowingthetransition,especiallythroughthecommitmentbyNATOmemberstatesofsufficientnumbersofmentorsandtrainerstocushionthetransition’seffectsandtobuildANSFcapacityinlightofthechallengesahead.Itisunclearwheretheseadditionalnumbersofmentors/trainerswillcomefrom.Theincreaseinthefirstthreemonthsof2012in‘greenonblue’incidentshasbroughtthebasisofmutualtrust,onwhichthiskeycomponentsupportingthetransitionstrategydepends,intoquestion.IndicationsnowpointstronglytowardstheUSandotherNATOmemberstatesbringingthesecuritytransitionprocessforwardbycompletingthetransferofleadsecuritytoAfghansecurityforcesbymid-2013.ThiswouldmeanthatNATO’scombatroleinAfghanistanwillendin2012facilitatingtheoptionofanacceleratedwithdrawalofinternationalmilitaryforces.Shouldthishappen,Afghansecurityforceswilltaketacticalcontrolincounteringtheinsurgencyevensoonerthanexpected,despiteexistingdoubtsabouttheirstateofpreparednesstodosoevenbytheendof2014.Giventhefactofthetransitiongoingahead,thiscouldengenderpositiveoutcomesiftheANSFcanswiftlyimproveitscapabilitiesthroughtheactoftakingcommandandprovidedthatsomelevelofinternationalmilitarypresencewillbeavailableforsupportuptotheendof2014.However,well-foundedconcernsregardingtheabsenceofsecuritysectorreform,ethnicandfactionaldivisionsendemicinthesecurityforcesanditsrelevantministries,aswellascorruptionandtheoverallpoliticalcontextinAfghanistanmilitateagainstsuchimprovements.Inessence,theviabilityoftheAfghanstateiscriticallychallengedfromwithin.Therelatedproblemsofstructuralcorruption,impunityandtheabsenceofpoliticalandsecurityreformshashollowedouttheWestern-backedstatebuildingprojectfromtheoutset.Theside-effectsofthesecuritytransition-fromtheclosureofPRTstotheprojecteddeclinesindevelopmentfunding-willnegativelyimpactgovernmentcapacity,strippingawaytheveneerofprogressovergovernanceandservicedelivery.Ifthetrendindecliningfundinglevelscontinues,achievementsingovernanceanddevelopmentinAfghanistanmaynotprovetobesustainable.ThisscenariowoulderodetheAfghangovernment’slegitimacyamongstAfghansfurtherandcontributetoinstability.
 
May2012
3
BarbaraJStapleton:BeatingaRetreat
AccordingtoaformerNATOSeniorCivilianRepresentative,thepurposeofthetransitionistoactasa‘forcingmechanism’.ButaweakAfghangovernmentcannotbeforcedintobeingasufficientlystrongoreffectiveonethroughtherushedwithdrawalofthesupportonwhichithascometodepend.Theprimaryquestionraisedinthisreportiswhetherthetransitionamountstoastrategyatall.Theconclusionreachedthatitdoesnot,isbasedonadetailedexaminationofthecontextandcontentoftheUSandNATO’stransitionstrategy,theobstaclesconfrontingthewiderstrategyunderpinningthemilitaryexit,NATO’sapproachtothecriteriaforimplementingthetransition,aswellastheidentifiableimpactsandconsequencesofthetransition.Thereportexploresseveralfactorsthatthreatentounderminetheprospectofasuccessfultransition.Firstly,theideathattheofficialtransitiontimelinecangenerateevenminimallyconduciveconditionsontheAfghanground-thatwouldsubstantiateclaimsthatthetransitionstrategycansucceed-isadelusion.The‘goodenough’approachmayexemplifytheprioritiesoftheUSandNATOmemberstatesinradicallyreformulatingtheirmilitaryengagementinAfghanistan,butitfailstoestablishwhatconditionsarenecessarytoavoidthecollapseofthecentralgovernmentandwithit,thefailureoftheWest’spolicyinAfghanistan.Secondly,NATO’seffectiveabandonmentofaconditions-basedapproachinimplementingthetransitionhasinpracticebeenrenderedunavoidablebythebrevityofthetransition’stimeline.ButtheweaknessofAfghaninstitutionsthatmaybesubjectedtoadditionalandintenseeconomicandpoliticalpressureslinkedtothetransition,beyondthechallengesoftakingoverresponsibilityforsecurity,makestheriskofstatecollapseallthegreater.Sofar,theUSandNATOmemberstateshaveshownnosignsofreconsideringtheviabilityofthetransitiontimelinedespitemultiplefactors,includingthestateoftheAfghansecurityforces,thatmakethisessential.Instead,thepriorityoftheNATOmemberstatesmostprominentlyengagedinAfghanistanistokeepthetransitiontimetableontrack,oreventospeeditup.NATO’smarginalisationofgovernancecriteriareflectsagrowingdisengagementbythewiderinternationalcommunityfromattemptstoaddressAfghanistan’sproblemswhichliebeyondenablingthetransitionandinternationalmilitaryexit.Yetprospectsthatthetransitionprocesscandeliveritsobjectiveofaself-sustainingAfghanstatemustbeassessedagainsttheoverallcontextoffailurebytheAfghangovernmentanditsinternationalpartnerstobuildtherightconditionsforastableAfghanistan:WhathasbeenimpossibletoachieveoverthelasttenyearswillnotbemiraculouslytransformedbyAfghanownership,especiallywithoverallsecurityandeconomicindicatorstrendingdownwards.Thirdly,prospectsforaresponsiblewithdrawalofinternationalforcesviathesecuritytransitionarenowentwinedwithAfghanistan’snationalreconciliationprocesswhich,sofar,hasfocusedontheinsurgents.Despiteitslateandslowstart,thishasmovedtothetopoftheinternationalagendaasameansofendingtheconflictandshoringupthesecuritytransition.Difficultiesthatmustbeovercomebeforesubstantialnegotiationscanstart,rangefromestablishingaconsensusinsideAfghanistan,withallrelevantsocialandpoliticalactors,thatapoliticalsettlementincludingtheTalebanisameaningfulsteptowardsapoliticalsolutioninthebroadersense,toaddressingthelackofknowledgeaboutthepoliticalaimsoftheTalebananditssub-networks.ThebeliefthatpoliticalreconciliationcanendtheconflictisnotsharedbyallAfghans,norbyallstatesintheregion.HowapotentialpoliticaldealwiththePakistan-basedTalebanleadershipcanbeenforced,andwhatrelevanceanydealwouldhavewithoutaneffectiveenforcementmechanism,shouldbeprominentitemsfordiscussionattheupcomingNATOsummitinChicago.Fourthly,ifmovestobringtheTalebanintothepoliticalprocesssucceed,thisislikelytocollidewithUSplanstocontinueitscounterterrorismstrategyfrombasesinsideAfghanistan.TalebanmembersofafutureAfghangovernmentareunlikelytoagreetoalonger-termUSmilitarypresencegiventheirlong-standingrejectionofforeignmilitaryforceswithinthecountry.Someinsurgentgroupsmaydecidetofightonuntilthelastforeignsoldierleaves.ThevirtualcollapseinrelationsbetweentheUSandPakistanandthepoliticalturmoilwithinPakistan,addstothechallengesfacedbytheUSinitsattempttoreformulateitsengagementwithin,andfrom,Afghanistanwhileneedingtoaddress,withitsNATOallies,theterroristthreatstoWesterninterests,believedtobeemanatingfromtheregion.Theprospectsforwhathappensfollowingthesecuritytransitionwilldependonfluidstrategic,politicalandeconomicfactorswithdifferinginternational,regionalanddomesticdimensions.OvershadowingthishighlycomplexsituationisthequestionofwhethertheUS,themainstrategicactorinAfghanistan,willmaintainthiscostlyrole.Thelead-timesinvolvedinfundingandimplementingthetransition’saftermathmeansthatthetimefordecisionsonthisisfastrunning

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