Building Afghanistan's Security Forces in Wartime: The Soviet Experience

Building Afghanistan's Security Forces in Wartime: The Soviet Experience

Building Afghanistan's Security Forces in Wartime: The Soviet Experience

Building Afghanistan's Security Forces in Wartime: The Soviet Experience

Excerpt

Security force assistance (SFA) is a central pillar of the counterinsurgency campaign being waged by U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The outcome of the campaign hinges, in large measure, on the effectiveness of the assistance provided to the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and other security forces. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union also carried out a massive counterinsurgency effort in support of Afghanistan’s then-government. At that time, too, the development of Afghanistan’s security forces was a central component of counterinsurgency efforts. To this day, the memory and lasting impact of that experience continue to affect Afghan attitudes about security assistance and security force requirements. Although there are many differences between current events and the Soviet experience, there are also striking parallels. Both the parallels and the differences can provide insights for those seeking to help rebuild Afghanistan today.

This monograph examines Soviet approaches to SFA in Afghanistan from the 1920s to 1989, with particular attention to the 1980s. It complements work by the author, Terrence Kelly, and Nora Bensahel that separately documents the U.S. and international approaches to building the Afghan National Security Forces from 2001 to 2009. The findings of this monograph, which presents research completed in the summer of 2010, should be of interest to U.S. military and civilian officials involved in preparing and executing SFA, both in Afghanistan and beyond. It should also be of interest to those inside and outside the U.S. government who seek a deeper understanding of historical reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and the key challenges that . . .

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