Security & Defense

Security & Defense Overview

“Do not ever threaten an Afghan with violence. We will rise as one and we will face every threat the way we have taken on thousands of previous armies and conquerors.”— Ashraf Ghani


Afghanistan ranks 162 out of 163 in the 2017 Global Peace Index, surpassed only by Syria. Despite progress toward building a stable unity government, continuing provincial instability and a resurgent Taliban remain serious challenges for the Afghan government.


The 2020 vision for Afghanistan lists as its first goal to “Achieve nationwide stabilization, strengthen law enforcement, and improve personal security for every Afghan.”

Establishing security in Afghanistan has been identified as essential not only for the survival of the Afghan state, but for the success of the reconstruction effort. After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan had no formal military or police forces. It now has an army, air force, and police force reporting to a democratically elected government. The government currently controls roughly 60 percent of the country, with about one third of all Afghans, or 11 million people, living under Taliban control or in contested areas with the government. In an NPR interview with President Ghani during the 2017 UN General Assembly, President Ghani laid out a specific goal of having the government security forces control 80 percent of the country in four years.

The US Policy Towards Afghanistan Under President Trump

On August 21, 2017, U.S. President Trump made a long awaited announcement outlining his Administration’s strategy moving forward in Afghanistan. In part, the plan includes deploying more American troops to Afghanistan to continue to train Afghan forces there, but no specific troop numbers were disclosed. President Trump also said that the U.S. would put new pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the terrorist safe havens that line its border with Afghanistan. Trump said there would be no “blank check” for the American engagement in Afghanistan but did not set timelines on U.S. involvement. He did emphasize that he was convinced that “a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaeda.”


Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report from September, 2017:

USIP report, Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces: Mission, Challenges and Sustainability

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Afghanistan Midyear Report 2016; Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict