Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
U.S. and outside assessments of the effort to stabilize Afghanistan are increasingly negative, to
the point where some senior U.S. officials say they are not sure the effort is “winning.” These
assessments emphasize an expanding militant presence in some areas previously considered
secure, and increased numbers of civilian and military deaths. Both the official U.S. as well as
outside assessments increasingly point to Pakistan’s failure to prevent Taliban and other militant
infiltration into Afghanistan as a cause of the security deterioration. The Bush Administration has
concluded several recent reviews of U.S. strategy, and has made actionable recommendations to
the incoming Obama Administration, which is expected to favor greater emphasis on Afghanistan
and to revamp U.S. strategy. There appears to be little clear consensus on a new strategy, although
most U.S. officials and commanders agree that U.S. strategy must go beyond adding U.S. troops
to include enhancing non-military steps such as economic development and improved
coordination among international donors, building local governing structures, and reform of the
Afghan central government. The Bush Administration also increased direct U.S. action against
militant concentrations inside Pakistan.
A growing component of U.S. strategy is to try to compel the Afghan government to redress its
widely acknowledged corruption and lack of capacity, which is causing popular disillusionment.
However, some experts believe there is substantial progress to build on, including completion of
the post-Taliban political transition with the convening of a parliament following parliamentary
elections in September 2005, presidential elections in October 2004, and adoption of a new
constitution in January 2004. The parliament has become an arena for formerly armed factions to
resolve differences, as well as a center of political pressure on President Hamid Karzai. Afghan
citizens, including women, are enjoying personal freedoms forbidden by the Taliban. With
international and Afghan criticism of Karzai’s leadership growing, he will be tested politically in
the presidential and provincial elections planned for the fall of 2009, and parliamentary and
district elections are to follow one year later, although possibly subject to security conditions.
The United States and partner countries now deploy a 51,000 troop NATO-led International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that commands peacekeeping throughout Afghanistan. Of
those, about 22,000 of the 36,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan are part of ISAF; the remainder
(about 14,000) are under Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. and partner forces also run 26
regional enclaves to secure reconstruction (Provincial Reconstruction Teams, PRTs), and are
building an Afghan National Army and National Police now totaling about 150,000. The United
States has given Afghanistan nearly $32 billion (including FY2009) since the fall of the Taliban,
of which about $15 billion was to equip and train the security forces. Breakdowns are shown in
the tables at the end.
This paper will be updated as warranted by major developments. CRS Report RL33627, NATO in
Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance, by Vincent Morelli and Paul Gallis; and CRS
Report RL32686, Afghanistan: Narcotics and U.S. Policy, by Christopher M. Blanchard.
Background to Recent Developments.............................................................................................1
The Mujahedin Government and Rise of the Taliban...............................................................4
The “Northern Alliance” Congeals.....................................................................................5
Bush Administration Policy Pre-September 11, 2001...............................................................6
September 11 Attacks and Operation Enduring Freedom...................................................6
Post-War Nation Building...............................................................................................................7
First Post-Taliban Elections................................................................................................9
2009 and 2010 Elections and Candidates.........................................................................10
Good Governance Issues.........................................................................................................10
Expanding and Reforming Central Government/Corruption............................................12
Enhancing Local Governance...........................................................................................15
U.S. Embassy/Budgetary Support to Afghan Government...............................................16
Human Rights and Democracy.........................................................................................16
Advancement of Women...................................................................................................18
Combating Narcotics Trafficking .....................................................................................19
Post-War Security Operations and Force Capacity Building.......................................................21
Taliban Command, Al Qaeda, and Related Insurgent Groups.................................................21
The Taliban “Resurgence” and Causes....................................................................................22
U.S. Strategy Reviews......................................................................................................25
New Strategy Initiatives....................................................................................................27
Training Tribal Militias/Community Guard Program.......................................................28
The NATO-Led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)............................................30
New NATO Force Pledges in 2008 and Since..................................................................31
National “Caveats” on Combat Operations......................................................................33
Provincial Reconstruction Teams............................................................................................33
Afghan National Security Forces............................................................................................34
Afghan National Army and Planned Expansion...............................................................35
Afghan Air Force..............................................................................................................36
Afghan National Police/Justice Sector..............................................................................37
U.S. Security Forces Funding/”CERP”............................................................................39
Increased Direct U.S. Action............................................................................................42
Ir an ........................................................................................................................... ............... 43
Russia, Central Asian States, and China..................................................................................45
Russia ......................................................................................................................... ....... 45
Central Asian States..........................................................................................................46
China .......................................................................................................................... ....... 46
Saudi Arabia and UAE............................................................................................................47
U.S. and International Aid to Afghanistan and Development Issues.............................................47
National Solidarity Program....................................................................................................50
U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan...............................................................................................51
Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002 and Amendments..........................................51
Afghan Freedom Support Act Re-Authorization..............................................................52
International Reconstruction Pledges/Aid/Lending..........................................................53
Residual Issues from Past Conflicts..............................................................................................54
Figure A-1. Map of Afghanistan....................................................................................................72
Table 1. Afghanistan Social and Economic Statistics......................................................................3
Table 2. Afghan and Regional Facilities Used for Operations in Afghanistan.............................30
Table 3. Recent and Pending Foreign Equipment for ANA........................................................37
Table 4. Major Security-Related Indicators...................................................................................39
Table 5. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY1978-FY1998..........................................................55
Table 6. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY1999-FY2002..........................................................56
Table 7. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2003.........................................................................58
Table 8. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2004.........................................................................59
Table 9. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2005.........................................................................60
Table 10. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2006.......................................................................61
Table 11. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2007.......................................................................62
Table 12. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2008......................................................................63
Table 13. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2009.......................................................................64
Table 14. USAID Obligations FY2002-FY2008...........................................................................65
Table 15. NATO/ISAF Contributing Nations................................................................................66
Table 16. Provincial Reconstruction Teams..................................................................................67
Table 17. Major Factions/Leaders in Afghanistan.........................................................................68
Appendix. U.S. and International Sanctions Lifted.......................................................................70
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................72
Prior to the founding of a monarchy in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, Afghanistan was territory
inhabited by tribes and tribal confederations linked to neighboring nations, not a distinct entity.
King Amanullah Khan (1919-1929) launched attacks on British forces in Afghanistan shortly
after taking power and won complete independence from Britain as recognized in the Treaty of
Rawalpindi (August 8, 1919). He was considered a secular modernizer presiding over a
government in which all ethnic minorities participated. He was succeeded by King Mohammad
Nadir Shah (1929-1933), and then by King Mohammad Zahir Shah. Zahir Shah’s reign (1933-
1973) is remembered fondly by many older Afghans for promulgating a constitution in 1964 that
established a national legislature and promoting freedoms for women, including freeing them
from covering their face and hair. However, possibly believing that he could limit Soviet support
for Communist factions in Afghanistan, Zahir Shah also entered into a significant political and
arms purchase relationship with the Soviet Union.
Afghanistan’s slide into instability began in the 1970s when the diametrically opposed
Communist Party and Islamic movements grew in strength. While receiving medical treatment in
Italy, Zahir Shah was overthrown by his cousin, Mohammad Daoud, a military leader who
established a dictatorship with strong state involvement in the economy. Daoud was overthrown 1
and killed in 1978 by Communist military officers led by Nur Mohammad Taraki. He was
displaced a year later by Hafizullah Amin, leader of a rival Communist faction. Both leaders drew
their strength from rural ethnic Pashtuns and tried to impose radical socialist change on a
traditional society, in part by redistributing land and bringing more women into government. Thsi
attempt at rapid modernization sparked rebellion by Islamic parties opposed to such moves. The
Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan on December 27, 1979, to prevent a seizure of power
by the Islamic militias, known as the mujahedin (Islamic fighters). Upon their invasion, the
Soviets replaced Hafizullah Amin with an ally perceived as pliable, Babrak Karmal.
Soviet occupation forces, which numbered about 120,000, were never able to pacify the outlying
areas of the country. The mujahedin benefited from U.S. weapons and assistance, provided
through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in cooperation with Pakistan’s Inter-Service
Intelligence directorate (ISI). That weaponry included portable shoulder-fired anti-aircraft
systems called “Stingers,” which proved highly effective against Soviet aircraft. The mujahedin
also hid and stored weaponry in a large network of natural and manmade tunnels and caves
throughout Afghanistan. The Soviet Union’s losses mounted, and Soviet domestic opinion turned
anti-war. In 1986, after the reformist Mikhail Gorbachev became leader, the Soviets replaced
Karmal with the director of Afghan intelligence, Najibullah Ahmedzai (known by his first name).
On April 14, 1988, Gorbachev agreed to a U.N.-brokered accord (the Geneva Accords) requiring
it to withdraw. The withdrawal was completed by February 15, 1989, leaving in place the weak
Najibullah government. A warming of relations moved the United States and Soviet Union to try
for a political settlement to the Afghan conflict, a trend accelerated by the 1991 collapse of the
Soviet Union, which reduced Moscow’s capacity for supporting communist regimes in the Third
World. On September 13, 1991, Moscow and Washington agreed to a joint cutoff of military aid
to the Afghan combatants.
1 Daoud’s grave was discovered outside Kabul in early 2008.
The State Department has said that a total of about $3 billion in economic and covert military
assistance was provided by the U.S. to the Afghan mujahedin from 1980 until the end of the
Soviet occupation in 1989. Press reports say the covert aid program grew from about $20 million
per year in FY1980 to about $300 million per year during FY1986-FY1990. The Soviet pullout
decreased the perceived strategic value of Afghanistan, causing a reduction in subsequent covert 2
funding. As indicated below in Table 5, U.S. assistance to Afghanistan remained at relatively
low levels from the time of the Soviet withdrawal, validating the views of many that the United
States largely considered its role in Afghanistan “completed” when Soviets troops left, and there
was little support for a major U.S. effort to rebuild the country. The United States closed its
embassy in Kabul in January 1989, as the Soviet Union was completing its pullout, and it
remained so until the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
With Soviet backing withdrawn, on March 18, 1992, Najibullah publicly agreed to step down
once an interim government was formed. That announcement set off a wave of rebellions
primarily by Uzbek and Tajik militia commanders in northern Afghanistan, who joined prominent
mujahedin commander Ahmad Shah Masud of the Islamic Society, a largely Tajik party headed
by Burhannudin Rabbani. Masud had earned a reputation as a brilliant strategist by preventing the
Soviets from occupying his power base in the Panjshir Valley of northeastern Afghanistan. 3
Najibullah fell, and the mujahedin regime began April 18, 1992.
2 For FY1991, Congress reportedly cut covert aid appropriations to the mujahedin from $300 million the previous year
to $250 million, with half the aid withheld until the second half of the fiscal year. See “Country Fact Sheet:
Afghanistan,” in U.S. Department of State Dispatch, vol. 5, no. 23 (June 6, 1994), p. 377.
3 After failing to flee, Najibullah, his brother, and aides remained at a U.N. facility in Kabul until the Taliban
movement seized control in 1996 and hanged them.
Table 1. Afghanistan Social and Economic Statistics
Population: 31 million
Ethnic Groups: Pashtun 42%; Tajik 27%; Uzbek 9%; Hazara 9%; Aimak 4%; Turkmen 3%; Baluch 2%; other
Religions: Sunni Muslim (Hanafi school) 80%; Shiite Muslim (Hazaras, Qizilbash, and Isma’ilis) 19%;
Size of Religious Christians-estimated 500-8,000 persons; Sikh and Hindu-3,000 persons; Bahai’s-400
Minorities (declared blasphemous in May 2007); Jews-1 person; Buddhist-unknown, but small
numbers, mostly foreigners. No Christian or Jewish schools. One church, open only to
Literacy Rate: 28% of population over 15 years of age
GDP: $10.2 billion est. for 2008. $7.5 billion in 2007. Value of opium production in 2008 est.
$732 million (7% of GDP), down from 13% of GDP for 2007. (Aug. 2008 UNODC report.)
GDP Per Capita: $300/yr; ($800 purchasing power parity). Up from $150 year per capita when Taliban was
GDP Real Growth: 12% (2007)
Unemployment Rate: 40%
Children in 5.7 million, of which 35% are girls. Up from 900,000 in school during Taliban era. 8,000
School/Schools Built schools built; 140,000 teachers hired since Taliban era.
Afghans With Access 85% with basic health services access-compared to 8% during Taliban era, although access
to Health Coverage is more limited in restive areas. Infant mortality has dropped 18% since Taliban to 135 per
1,000 live births. 680 clinics built with U.S. funds since Taliban.
Roads Built About 5,000 miles post-Taliban, including ring road around the country. Now possible to
drive from Kabul to western border in one day.
Judges Trained 950 since fall of Taliban
Access to Electricity 15%-20% of the population.
Revenues: About $1 billion in 2008; $715 million in 2007; $550 million 2006
Expenditures About $1.5 billion in 2008; $1.2 billion in 2007; 900 million in 2006. Afghan government to
contribute $6.8 billion during 2008-2013 for $50 billion Afghan National Development
Strategy; the remainder to come from international donors.
External Debt: $8 billion bilateral, plus $500 million multilateral. U.S. forgave $108 million in debt to U.S. in
Foreign Exchange: $3 billion (Karzai interview September 2008).
Foreign Investment $500 billion est. for 2007; about $1 billion for 2006
Major Legal Exports: fruits, raisins, pomegranate juice (Anar), nuts, carpets, semi-precious gems, hides
Oil Production: negligible
Oil Proven Reserves: 3.6 billion barrels of oil, 36.5 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to Afghan government on
March 15, 2006
Major Imports: food, petroleum, capital goods, textiles
Import Partners: Pakistan 38.6%; U.S. 9.5%; Germany 5.5%; India 5.2%; Turkey 4.1%; Turkmenistan 4.1%
Number of Cellphones 5.3 million
Source: CIA World Factbook, January 2008, Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC; President Bush speech on
February 15, 2007; International Religious Freedom Report, September 19, 2008; Afghan National Development
The fall of Najibullah exposed the differences among the mujahedin parties. The leader of one of
the smaller parties (Afghan National Liberation Front), Islamic scholar Sibghatullah Mojadeddi,
was president during April-May 1992. Under an agreement among the major parties, Rabbani
became President in June 1992 with agreement that he would serve until December 1994. He
refused to step down at that time, saying that political authority would disintegrate without a clear
successor. Kabul was subsequently shelled by other mujahedin factions, particularly that of
nominal “Prime Minister” Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, a Pashtun, who accused Rabbani of
monopolizing power. Hikmatyar’s radical Islamist Hizb-e-Islami (Islamic Party) had received a
large proportion of the U.S. aid during the anti-Soviet war.
In 1993-1994, Afghan Islamic clerics and students, mostly of rural, Pashtun origin, formed the
Taliban movement. Many were former mujahedin who had become disillusioned with conflict
among mujahedin parties and had moved into Pakistan to study in Islamic seminaries
(“madrassas”). They practiced an orthodox Sunni Islam called “Wahhabism,” also practiced in
Saudi Arabia, and consonant with conservative Pashtun tribal traditions. They viewed the
Rabbani government as corrupt, anti-Pashtun, and responsible for civil war. The four years of
civil war (1992-1996) created popular support for the Taliban as a movement that could deliver
Afghanistan from the warfare. With the help of defections, the Taliban seized control of the
southeastern city of Qandahar in November 1994; by February 1995, it had reached the gates of
Kabul, after which an 18-month stalemate around the capital ensued. In September 1995, the
Taliban captured Herat province, bordering Iran, and imprisoned its governor, Ismail Khan, ally
of Rabbani and Masud, who later escaped and took refuge in Iran. In September 1996, Taliban
victories near Kabul led to the withdrawal of Rabbani and Masud to the Panjshir Valley north of
Kabul with most of their heavy weapons; the Taliban took control of Kabul on September 27,
1996. Taliban gunmen subsequently entered a U.N. facility in Kabul to seize Najibullah, his
brother, and aides, and then hanged them.
The Taliban regime was led by Mullah Muhammad Umar, who lost an eye in the anti-Soviet war
while fighting under the banner of the Hizb-e-Islam (Islamic Party) of Yunis Khalis. Umar held
the title of Head of State and “Commander of the Faithful,” but he remained in the Taliban power
base in Qandahar, almost never appearing in public. Umar forged a close bond with bin Laden
and refused U.S. demands to extradite him.
The Taliban progressively lost international and domestic support as it imposed strict adherence
to Islamic customs in areas it controlled and employed harsh punishments, including executions.
The Taliban authorized its “Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice” to
use physical punishments to enforce strict Islamic practices, including bans on television, Western
music, and dancing. It prohibited women from attending school or working outside the home,
except in health care, and it publicly executed some women for adultery. In what many consider
its most extreme action, in March 2001 the Taliban blew up two large Buddha statues carved into
hills above Bamiyan city, considering them idols.
The Clinton Administration held talks with the Taliban before and after it took power, but was
unable to moderate its policies. The United States withheld recognition of Taliban as the
legitimate government of Afghanistan, formally recognizing no faction as the government. The
United Nations continued to seat representatives of the Rabbani government, not the Taliban. The
State Department ordered the Afghan embassy in Washington, DC, closed in August 1997. U.N.
Security Council Resolution 1193 (August 28, 1998) and 1214 (December 8, 1998) urged the
Taliban to end discrimination against women. Some women’s rights groups urged the Clinton
Administration not to recognize the Taliban government. In May 1999, the Senate passed S.Res.
68 calling on the President not to recognize an Afghan government that discriminates against
The Taliban’s hosting of Al Qaeda’s leadership gradually became the Clinton Administration’s
overriding agenda item with Afghanistan. In April 1998, then U.S. Ambassador to the United
Nations Bill Richardson visited Afghanistan but the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden. After
the August 7, 1998, Al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Clinton
Administration progressively pressured the Taliban, imposing U.S. sanctions and achieving
adoption of some U.N. sanctions as well. On August 20, 1998, the United States fired cruise
missiles at alleged Al Qaeda training camps in eastern Afghanistan, but bin Laden was not hit. A
pharmaceutical plant in Sudan (Al Shifa) believe to be producing chemical weapons for Al Qaeda
also was struck that day, although U.S. reviews later corroborated Sudan’s assertions that the
plant was strictly civilian in nature. Some observers assert that the Administration missed several
other opportunities to strike him, including following a purported sighting of him by an unarmed
Predator drone at his Karnak Farms camp in Afghanistan in mid-2000. Clinton Administration
officials say they did not try to oust the Taliban militarily because domestic and international
support for doing so was lacking.
The Taliban’s policies caused different Afghan factions to ally with the ousted President Rabbani
and Masud and their ally in the Herat area, Ismail Khan—the Tajik core of the anti-Taliban
opposition—into a broader “Northern Alliance.” In the Alliance were Uzbek, Hazara Shiite, and
even some Pashtun Islamist factions discussed in Table 17.
• Uzbeks/General Dostam. One major Alliance faction was the Uzbek militia (the
Junbush-Melli, or National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan) of General Abdul
Rashid Dostam. Frequently referred to by some Afghans as one of the “warlords”
who gained power during the anti-Soviet war, Dostam first tried to oust Rabbani
during his 1992-96 presidency, but then joined him against the Taliban.
• Hazara Shiites. Members of Hazara tribes, mostly Shiite Muslims, are
prominent in Bamiyan Province (central Afghanistan) and are always wary of
repression by Pashtuns and other larger ethnic factions. During the various
Afghan wars, the main Hazara Shiite militia was Hizb-e-Wahdat (Unity Party,
composed of eight different groups).
• Pashtun Islamists/Sayyaf. Abd-I-Rab Rasul Sayyaf, who is now a parliament
committee chairman, headed a Pashtun-dominated mujahedin faction called the
Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan. Even though his ideology is
similar to that of the Taliban, Sayyaf joined the Northern Alliance.
Prior to the September 11 attacks, Bush Administration policy differed little from Clinton
Administration policy—applying economic and political pressure while retaining dialogue with
the Taliban, and refraining from militarily assisting the Northern Alliance. The September 11
Commission report said that, in the months prior to the September 11 attacks, Administration
officials leaned toward such a step and that some officials wanted to assist anti-Taliban Pashtun 4
forces. Other covert options were under consideration as well. In a departure from Clinton
Administration policy, the Bush Administration stepped up engagement with Pakistan to try to
end its support for the Taliban. In accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1333, in
February 2001 the State Department ordered the Taliban representative office in New York
closed, although the Taliban representative continued to operate informally. In March 2001,
Administration officials received a Taliban envoy to discuss bilateral issues.
Fighting with some Iranian, Russian, and Indian financial and military support, the Northern
Alliance nonetheless continued to lose ground to the Taliban after it lost Kabul in 1996. By the
time of the September 11 attacks, the Taliban controlled at least 75% of the country, including
almost all provincial capitals. The Alliance suffered a major setback on September 9, 2001, two
days before the September 11 attacks, when Ahmad Shah Masud was assassinated by alleged Al
Qaeda suicide bombers posing as journalists. He was succeeded by his intelligence chief,
Muhammad Fahim, a veteran figure but who lacked Masud’s undisputed authority.
After the September 11 attacks, the Bush Administration decided to militarily overthrow the
Taliban when it refused to extradite bin Laden, judging that a friendly regime in Kabul was
needed to enable U.S forces to search for Al Qaeda activists there. United Nations Security
Council Resolution 1368 of September 12, 2001 said that the Security Council:
“expresses its readiness to take all necessary steps to respond” (implying force) to the
September 11 attacks.
However, this Resolution did not explicitly authorize Operation Enduring Freedom or any U.S. or
other military operation in Afghanistan.
In Congress, S.J.Res. 23 (passed 98-0 in the Senate and with no objections in the House, P.L. 5
all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he
determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on
September 11, 2001 or harbored such organizations or persons.
Major combat in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF) began on October 7, 2001. It
consisted primarily of U.S. air-strikes on Taliban and Al Qaeda forces, facilitated by the
cooperation between small numbers (about 1,000) of U.S. special operations forces and the
4 Drogin, Bob. “U.S. Had Plan for Covert Afghan Options Before 9/11.” Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2002.
5 Another law (P.L. 107-148) established a “Radio Free Afghanistan” under RFE/RL, providing $17 million in funding
for it for FY2002.
Northern Alliance and Pashtun anti-Taliban forces. Some U.S. ground units (about 1,300
Marines) moved into Afghanistan to pressure the Taliban around Qandahar at the height of the
fighting (October-December 2001), but there were few pitched battles between U.S. and Taliban
soldiers; most of the ground combat was between Taliban and its Afghan opponents. Some critics
believe that U.S. dependence on local Afghan militia forces in the war strengthened them for the
post-war period, setting back post-war democracy building efforts.
The Taliban regime unraveled rapidly after it lost Mazar-e-Sharif on November 9, 2001, to forces
loyal to Dostam. Other, mainly Tajik, Northern Alliance forces—the commanders of which had
initially promised U.S. officials they would not enter Kabul—entered the capital on November
Pashtun leaders, such as Hamid Karzai. The end of the Taliban regime is generally dated as
December 9, 2001, when the Taliban surrendered Qandahar and Mullah Umar fled the city,
leaving it under tribal law administered by Pashtun leaders such as the Noorzai clan. In December
2001, U.S. Special Operations Forces and CIA officers reportedly narrowed Osama bin Laden’s
location to the Tora Bora mountains in Nangarhar Province (30 miles west of the Khyber Pass),
but the Afghan militia fighters who were the bulk of the fighting force did not prevent his escape.
Some U.S. military and intelligence officers (such as Gary Berntsen and “Dalton Fury, who have
written books on the battle) have questioned the U.S. decision to rely mainly on Afghan forces in
this engagement. Subsequently, U.S. and Afghan forces conducted “Operation Anaconda” in the
Shah-i-Kot Valley south of Gardez (Paktia Province) during March 2-19, 2002, against 800 Al
Qaeda and Taliban fighters. In March 2003, about 1,000 U.S. troops raided suspected Taliban or
Al Qaeda fighters in villages around Qandahar (Operation Valiant Strike). On May 1, 2003, then
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld announced an end to “major combat.”
With Afghanistan in devastation after more than 20 years of warfare, the fall of the Taliban paved
the way for the success of a long-stalled U.N. effort to form a broad-based Afghan government
and for a U.S.-led coalition to begin building legitimate governing institutions. There are clear
signs of progress in building institutions, but the task has proved more difficult than anticipated
because of the effects of the years of war, the low literacy rate of the population, the difficult
terrain and geography, and the relative lack of trained government bureaucrats.
In the formation of a transition government, the United Nations was viewed as a credible
mediator by all sides largely because of its role in ending the Soviet occupation. During the
1990s, proposals from a succession of U.N. mediators incorporated many of former King Zahir
Shah’s proposals for a government to be selected by a traditional assembly, or loya jirga.
However, U.N.-mediated cease-fires between warring factions always broke down. Non-U.N.
initiatives made little progress, particularly the “Six Plus Two” multilateral contact group, which
began meeting in 1997 (the United States, Russia, and the six states bordering Afghanistan: Iran,
6 More information on some of the issues in this section can be found in CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan:
Government Formation and Performance, by Kenneth Katzman. Some of the information in this section is derived
from author participation on a congressional delegation to Afghanistan in March 2008.
China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan). Other failed efforts included a
“Geneva group” (Italy, Germany, Iran, and the United States) formed in 2000; an Organization of
Islamic Conference (OIC) contact group; and Afghan exile efforts, including discussion groups
launched by Hamid Karzai’s clan and Zahir Shah (“Rome process).
Immediately after the September 11 attacks, former U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi was brought
back (he had resigned in frustration in October 1999). U.N. Security Council Resolution 1378
was adopted on November 14, 2001, calling for a “central” role for the United Nations in
establishing a transitional administration and inviting member states to send peacekeeping forces
to promote stability and aid delivery. After the fall of Kabul in November 2001, the United
Nations invited major Afghan factions, most prominently the Northern Alliance and that of the
former King—but not the Taliban—to a conference in Bonn, Germany.
On December 5, 2001, the factions signed the “Bonn Agreement.”7 It was endorsed by U.N.
Security Council Resolution 1385 (December 6, 2001). The agreement, reportedly forged with
substantial Iranian diplomatic help because of Iran’s support for the Northern Alliance faction:
• formed the interim administration headed by Hamid Karzai.
• authorized an international peace keeping force to maintain security in Kabul,
and Northern Alliance forces were directed to withdraw from the capital. Security
Council Resolution 1386 (December 20, 2001) gave formal Security Council
authorization for the international peacekeeping force.
• referred to the need to cooperate with the international community on counter
narcotics, crime, and terrorism.
• applied the constitution of 1964 until a permanent constitution could be drafted.8
A June 2002 “emergency” loya jirga put a representative imprimatur on the transition; it was
attended by 1,550 delegates (including about 200 women) from Afghanistan’s 364 districts.
Subsequently, a 35-member constitutional commission drafted the permanent constitution, and
unveiled in November 2003. It was debated by 502 delegates, selected in U.N-run caucuses, at a
“constitutional loya jirga (CLJ)” during December 13, 2003-January 4, 2004. The CLJ, chaired
by Mojadeddi (mentioned above), ended with approval of the constitution with only minor
changes. The Northern Alliance faction failed in its effort to set up a prime minister-ship, but they
did achieve a fallback objective of checking presidential powers by assigning major authorities to
the elected parliament, such as the power to veto senior official nominees and to impeach a
president. The constitution made former King Zahir Shah honorary “Father of the Nation”-a title 9
that is not heritable. Zahir Shah died on July 23, 2007. The constitution also set out timetables
7 Text of Bonn agreement at http://www.ag-afghanistan.de/files/petersberg.htm.
8 The last loya jirga that was widely recognized as legitimate was held in 1964 to ratify a constitution. Najibullah
convened a loya jirga in 1987 to approve pro-Moscow policies; that gathering was widely viewed by Afghans as
9 Text of constitution: http://arabic.cnn.com/afghanistan/ConstitutionAfghanistan.pdf.
for presidential, provincial, and district elections (by June 2004) and stipulated that, if possible,
they should be held simultaneously.
Hamid Karzai, about 51, was selected to lead Afghanistan because he was a credible Pashtun leader who seeks
factional compromise rather than intimidation through armed force. However, some observers consider his
compromises a sign of weakness, and criticize what they allege is his toleration of corruption. Others say he seeks to
maintain Pashtun predominance in his government. From Karz village in Qandahar Province, Hamid Karzai has led the
powerful Popolzai tribe of Durrani Pashtuns since 1999, when his father was assassinated, allegedly by Taliban agents,
in Quetta, Pakistan. Karzai attended university in India. He was deputy foreign minister in Rabbani’s government
during 1992-1995, but he left the government and supported the Taliban as a Pashtun alternative to Rabbani. He
broke with the Taliban as its excesses unfolded and forged alliances with other anti-Taliban factions, including the
Northern Alliance. Karzai entered Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks to organize Pashtun resistance to the
Taliban, supported by U.S. special forces. He became central to U.S. efforts after Pashtun commander Abdul Haq
entered Afghanistan in October 2001 without U.S. support and was captured and hung by the Taliban. Karzai was
slightly injured by an errant U.S. bomb during the major combat of Operation Enduring Freedom. Some of his several
brothers have lived in the United States, including Qayyum Karzai, who won a parliament seat in the September 2005
election but resigned his seat in October 2008 due to health reasons. Another brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, is chair
of the provincial council of Qandahar, but was accused in a New York Times story (October 5, 2008) of involvement
in narcotics trafficking. With heavy protection, President Karzai has survived several assassination attempts since
taking office, including rocket fire or gunfire at or near his appearances. His wife, Dr. Zenat Karzai, is a gynecologist
by profession. They have several children, including one (Mirwais) born in 2008.
Security conditions precluded the holding of all elections simultaneously. The first election, for
president, was held on October 9, 2004, slightly missing a June deadline. Turnout was about 80%.
On November 3, 2004, Karzai was declared winner (55.4% of the vote) over his seventeen
challengers on the first round, avoiding a runoff. Parliamentary and provincial council elections
were intended for April-May 2005 but were delayed until September 18, 2005. Because of the
difficulty in confirming voter registration rolls and determining district boundaries, elections for
the 364 district councils, each of which will likely have contentious boundaries because they will
inevitably separate tribes and clans, have not been held to date.
For the parliamentary election, voting was conducted for individuals running in each province,
not as party slates. (There are now 90 registered political parties in Afghanistan, but parties
remain unpopular because of their linkages to outside countries during the anti-Soviet war.) When
parliament first convened on December 18, 2005, the Northern Alliance bloc achieved selection
of one of its own—who was Karzai’s main competitor in the presidential election—Yunus
Qanooni, for speaker of the lower house. In April 2007, Qanooni and Northern Alliance political
leader Rabbani organized this opposition bloc, along with ex-Communists and some royal family
members, into a party called the “United Front” (UF) that wants increased parliamentary powers
and direct elections for the provincial governors. The 102-seat upper house, selected by the
provincial councils and Karzai, consists mainly of older, well known figures, as well as 17
females (half of Karzai’s 34 appointments, as provided for in the constitution). The leader of that
body is Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, a pro-Karzai elder statesman.
Presidential and provincial elections are scheduled for summer-fall 2009 (no exact date set). The
National Front, perhaps sensing electoral weakness for Karzai, wanted the elections to be held in
June 2009, close to the constitutionally mandated timeframe of May 2009, but Karzai, apparently
with the backing of the Independent Electoral Commission that will run the elections, has pressed
for an early fall time frame. Parliamentary, district, and municipal elections are expected to
follow in 2010. Elections for village-level community development councils (CDC’s) are held on
a constant basis-if all these positions are counted, there are 300,000 elected positions at all levels
of Afghan governance.
Security conditions are expected to complicate the national elections in 2009, if not derail them
outright, but voter registration (updating of 2004 voter roles) has been somewhat heavier than
expected, with over 2 million voters updating their registration as of December 2008. U.S.
commanders reported good progress in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, where violence is regular,
and registration updating – targeted for completion by March 2009 -- is beginning in restive
southern Afghanistan. Thus far, a disproportionate number of registrants are women, partly
because of some reports of improper registration by men of long lists of women who do not show
up at registration centers in person. If security conditions preclude the elections – and some
Pashtuns say their areas are too unsafe to hold a fair election that represents them proportionately
-- the constitution provides for a special presidential selection process by loya jirga.
Karzai has said clearly since August 2008 that he will seek re-election; the two-round election
virtually assures victory by a Pashtun. Anti-Karzai Pashtuns are trying to coalesce around one
challenger; possibly former Interior Minister Ali Jalali who resigned in 2005 in opposition to
Karzai compromises with faction leaders, or former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. Ghani, who
has criticized Karzai’s government for tolerating excessive corruption, arrived in Kabul on
December 20, 2008, to a nomination for President by “32 political parties and 342 people’s
councils.” Some observers say there is an alternate election strategy under discussion in which a
Pashtun, such as Jalali, might head a United Front ticket, possibly with former Foreign Minister
Dr. Abdullah (Tajik) running as a first vice presidential ticket-mate. However, senior UF leader
Rabbani is said to be unwilling to step aside as senior leader of the UF and wants to run himself at
the head of this ticket. Others in the UF, Qanooni and Rabbani, reportedly are leaning against a
run. Other possible candidates include Hazara leader Mohammad Mohaqqeq; Ramazan
Bashardost (another Hazara); Sabit (Pashtun, mentioned above); and Pashtun monarchist figures
Pir Gaylani and Hedayat Arsala Amin. Rumors have abated that U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.,
Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, might himself run, although some say this issue is still open.
Some U.S. observers are said to believe that, despite the maneuvering and the decline in his
popularity during 2007-2008, Karzai is still the favorite in the election. However, some observers
believe that President-elect Obama might prefer new leadership in Kabul; that perception might
have been reinforced by the January 2009 visit to Afghanistan of Vice President-elect Joseph
Biden at which he reportedly was forthright with Karzai about the shortcomings of the Afghan
central government. Elections cost about $100 million.
Since its formation in late 2001, Karzai’s government has grown in capabilities and size, although
slowly. At the same time, it has come to be progressively dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, who
have traditionally governed Afghanistan. Among the key security bodies, only the Intelligence
Directorate continues to be headed by a non-Pashtun (Amrollah Saleh, a Tajik), and, adhering to a
tacit consensus, the other security ministries (Defense, Interior) tend to have Pashtun leadership
but with non-Pashtuns in key deputy or subordinate positions. One prominent example is the
defense ministry, in which the chief of staff is a Tajik (Bismillah Khan), who reports to a Pashtun
Defense Minister (Abd al Rahim Wardak).
The parliament has emerged, unexpectedly to some, as a relatively vibrant body that does create
some accountability. It has asserted itself on several occasions, for example in the process of
confirming a post-election cabinet and in forcing Karzai to oust several major conservatives from
the Supreme Court in favor of those with more experience in modern jurisprudence. In mid-2007,
parliament enacted a law granting amnesty to commanders who fought in the various Afghan
wars since the Soviet invasion—some of whom are now members of parliament—in an attempt to
put past schisms to rest in building a new Afghanistan. The law was rewritten to give victims the
ability to bring accusations of past abuses forward; its status is unclear because Karzai did not
veto it but he did not sign it either.
In a sign of tension between Karzai and parliamentary opposition, in May 2007, the National
Front bloc engineered a vote of no confidence against Foreign Minister Rangeen Spanta for
failing to prevent Iran from expelling 50,000 Afghan refugees over a one-month period. Karzai
opposed Spanta’s dismissal on the grounds that refugee affairs are not his ministry’s prime
jurisdiction. The Afghan Supreme Court has sided with Karzai and Spanta remains in position.
On the other hand, on some less contentious issues, the executive and the legislature appear to be
working well. Since the end of 2007, the Wolesi Jirga has passed and forwarded to the Meshrano
Jirga several laws, including a labor law, a mines law, a law on economic cooperatives, and a
convention on tobacco control. The Wolesi Jirga also has confirmed Karzai nominees in several
cabinet shifts in 2008, as well as for the one remaining justice to fill out the Supreme Court. Still,
the parliament has had difficulty obtaining a quorum because some parliamentarians have
difficulty traveling to and from their home provinces.
The international community is extensively involved in Afghan governance and national building,
primarily in factional conflict resolution and coordination of development assistance. The
coordinator of U.N. efforts is the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), headed as
of March 2008 by Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1806 of
March 20, 2008, extends UNAMA’s mandate for another year and expands its authority to
coordinating the work of international donors and strengthening cooperation between the
international peacekeeping force (ISAF, see below) and the Afghan government. UNAMA also is
co-chair of the joint Afghan-international community coordination body called the Joint
Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB). UNAMA often has been involved in local dispute
resolution among factions, and it is helping organize the coming elections.
UNAMA is helping implement the five-year development strategy outlined in a “London
Compact,” (now called the Afghanistan Compact) adopted at the January 31-February 1, 2006,
London conference on Afghanistan. The priorities developed in that document comport with
Afghanistan’s own “National Strategy for Development,” presented on June 12, 2008, in Paris, as
discussed further below under “assistance.” In Washington, D.C., in April 2008 and since, Eide
has said that additional capacity-building resources are needed, and that some efforts by
international donors are redundant or tied to purchases by Western countries. In several
statements and press conferences, Eide has continued to note security deterioration but also
progress in governance.
The difficulties in coordinating U.N. with U.S. and NATO efforts were belied in a 2007 proposal
to create a new position of “super envoy” that would represent the United Nations, the European
Union, and NATO in Afghanistan. The concept advanced and in January 2008, with U.S. support,
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon tentatively appointed British diplomat Paddy Ashdown as
the “super envoy.” However, Karzai rejected the appointment reportedly over concerns about the
scope of authority of such an envoy, including the potential to dilute the U.S. role. Karzai might
have also sought to show independence from the international community. Ashdown withdrew his
name on January 28, 2008.
With a permanent national government fully assembled, U.S. policy has been to attempt to
expand governance throughout the country. In testimony to the Senate Armed Services
Committee on February 28, 2008, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said that the
Karzai government controls only 30% of the country, while the Taliban controls 10%, and tribes
and local groups control the remainder; U.S. and NATO officials in Kabul told CRS in March
2008 they consider that assessment too pessimistic. U.S. commanders and officials assert that
Taliban militants are able to infiltrate “un-governed space,” contributing to the persistence and in
some areas the expansion of the Taliban insurgency. Because building the central government has
gone slowly, there has been some U.S. shift during 2008 away from reliance only on
strengthening central government, and instead promoting more local solutions to security and
governance. Some argue that Afghans have always sought substantial regional autonomy.
Others say that corruption in the central government and at the local level is causing Afghans to
turn to supporting Taliban insurgents. In response to some of the criticism, there appears to be a
shift in U.S. thinking toward pressing for greater transparency and steps to eliminate corruption.
A key to U.S. strategy to strengthen the central government has been to support Karzai’s efforts to
curb key regional strongmen and local militias—who some refer to as “warlords.” Karzai has
cited these actors as a major threat to Afghan stability because of their arbitrary administration of
justice and generation of popular resentment through their demands for bribes and other favors.
Some say that easily purchased arms and manpower, funded by narcotics trafficking, sustains
local militias as well as the Taliban insurgency. Some observers believe that, conceptually, the
new local governance and local security initiatives being pursued in 2008, discussed further
below, appear to directly conflict with the past and still ongoing militia disarmament efforts.
Karzai has, to some extent, succeeded in marginalizing the largest regional leaders.
• Ismail Khan was removed as Herat governor in September 2004 and later
appointed Minister of Water and Energy. On the other hand, Khan was tapped by
Karzai to help calm Herat after Sunni-Shiite clashes there in February 2006,
clashes that some believe were stoked by Khan to demonstrate his continued
influence in Herat.
• In April 2005, Dostam was appointed Karzai’s top military advisor, and in April
his followers in the north conducted large demonstrations in attempting to force
out the anti-Dostam governor of Jowzjan Province. In February 2008, Afghan
police surrounded Dostam’s home in Kabul, but did not arrest him, in connection
with the alleged beating of a political opponent by Dostam supporters. Some
outside observers have cited Karzai’s refusal to order an arrest as a sign of
weakness of his leadership. However, in December 2008, Karzai reportedly
agreed to drop the charges in exchange for stripping Dostam of his chief of staff
title and his going into exile in Turkey.
• Another key figure, former Defense Minister Fahim (Northern Alliance) was
appointed by Karzai to the upper house of parliament, although he remained in
that body only a few months. The appointment was intended to give him a stake
in the political process and reduce his potential to activate Northern Alliance
militia loyalists. Fahim continues to turn heavy weapons over to U.N. and
Afghan forces (including four Scud missiles), although the U.N. Assistance
Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says that large quantities of weapons remain
in the Panjshir Valley.
• In July 2004, Karzai moved charismatic Northern Alliance figure Atta
Mohammad Noor from control of a militia in the Mazar-e-Sharif area to governor
of Balkh province, although he reportedly remains resistant to central
government control. Still, his province is now “cultivation free” of opium,
according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports since August
2007. Two other large militia leaders, Hazrat Ali (Jalalabad area) and Khan
Mohammad (Qandahar area) were placed in civilian police chief posts in 2005;
Hazrat Ali was subsequently elected to parliament.
A cornerstone of the effort to strengthen the central government was a program, run by UNAMA
to dismantle identified and illegal militias that were empowered by Afghanistan’s 25 years of
warfare. The program, which formally concluded on June 30, 2006, was the “DDR” program:
Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration. The program got off to a slow start because the
Afghan Defense Ministry did not reduce the percentage of Tajiks in senior positions by a July 1,
2003, target date, dampening Pashtun recruitment. In September 2003, Karzai replaced 22 senior
Tajiks in the Defense Ministry officials with Pashtuns, Uzbeks, and Hazaras, enabling DDR to
The DDR program was initially been expected to demobilize 100,000 fighters, although that
figure was later reduced. Figures for accomplishment of the DDR and DIAG programs are
contained in the “security indicators table” below. Of those demobilized, 55,800 former fighters
have exercised reintegration options provided by the program: starting small businesses, farming,
and other options. U.N. officials say at least 25% of these found long-term, sustainable jobs.
Some studies criticized the DDR program for failing to prevent a certain amount of rearmament
of militiamen or stockpiling of weapons and for the rehiring of some militiamen in programs run 10
by the United States and its partners. Part of the DDR program was the collection and
cantonment of militia weapons. However, some accounts say that only poor quality weapons were
10 For an analysis of the DDR program, see Christian Dennys. Disarmament, Demobilization and Rearmament?, June
6, 2005, http://www.jca.apc.org/~jann/Documents/Disarmament%20demobilization%20rearmament.pdf.
collected. UNAMA officials say that vast quantities of weapons are still kept by the Northern
Alliance faction in the Panjshir Valley, although the faction is giving up some weapons to
UNAMA, in small weekly shipments. The United States spent $20 million on the program,
although the major donor was Japan, which contributed about $140 million. Figures for collected
weapons are contained in the table.
Since June 11, 2005, the disarmament effort has emphasized another program called “DIAG,”
Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups. It is run by the Afghan Disarmament and Reintegration
Commission, headed by Vice President Khalili. Under the DIAG, no payments are available to
fighters, and the program depends on persuasion rather than use of force against the illegal
groups. DIAG has not been as well funded as was DDR: it has received $11 million in operating
funds. As an incentive for compliance, Japan and other donors have made available $35 million
for development projects where illegal groups have disbanded. These incentives were intended to
accomplish the disarmament of a pool of as many as 150,000 members of 1,800 different “illegal
armed groups”: militiamen that were not part of recognized local forces (Afghan Military Forces,
AMF) and were never on the rolls of the Defense Ministry. These goals were not met by the
December 2007 target date in part because armed groups in the south say they need to remain
armed against the Taliban, but UNAMA reports that some progress continues to be achieved.
An accelerating trend in U.S. policy – and expected to be emphasized by the Obama
Administration -- is to press Karzai to weed out official corruption. Some (for example, former
Coordinator for Counter-Narcotics and Justice Reform Thomas Schweich, in a July 27, 2008,
New York Times article) have gone so far as to assert Karzai is deliberately trying to curry political
support from officials in his government whom he knows to be corrupt and involved in the
narcotics trade. It is widely believed that Karzai has shielded his brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai,
from prosecution for alleged involvement in drug trafficking. Another move that disappointed
some outside observers was Karzai’s firing of Attorney General Abd al Jabbar Sabit on July 16,
2008, after he declared his intention to run against Karzai in 2009 presidential elections. Sabit had
been appointed in 2007 to crack down on governmental corruption, and some say he was
performing that task effectively. Other observers say Sabit was himself involved in corruption and
the firing demonstrates that Karzai is cracking down on illicit activity at senior levels.
The U.S. policy may be starting to yield results. In August 2008, reportedly at U.S. prodding,
Karzai formed a “High Office of Oversight for the Implementation of Anti-Corruption Strategy”
with wide powers to investigate civilian and security officials. Karzai attends weekly meetings of
the officials of this body. In October 2008, Karzai shuffled his cabinet, appointing former
Communist era official Muhammad Hanif Atmar—avowedly committed to reducing police
corruption -- as Interior Minister, and placing a widely praised official, Gulam Wardak, as new
Education Minister. Muhammad Asif Rahimi took over as Agriculture Minister, but the widely
criticized former Qandahar governor Asadullah Khalid was made minister of parliamentary
affairs. The Minister of Commerce, Amin Farhang, was voted out of office by the parliament in
December 2008 for alleged misfeasance.
On the other hand, the Bush Administration supported Karzai publicly, despite private
reservations. The Bush Administration bolstered him through repeated statements of support and
top level exchanges, including several visits there by President Bush (March 1, 2006 and
December 2008), Vice President Cheney, and First Lady Laura Bush.
Since the beginning of 2008, there has been a major U.S.-Afghan push to build up local
governance, reflecting a shift from the 2001-2007 approach of building only the central
government. The approach represents an attempt to rebuild some of the tribal and other local
structures, such as “shuras”—traditional local councils—that were destroyed in the course of
constant warfare over several decades. The leader in this initiative has been the “Independent
Directorate of Local Governance” (IDLG), formed in August 2007 and headed by Jelani Popal. It
reports to Karzai’s office. This represented, first and foremost, an attempt to institute a systematic
process for selecting capable governors and district leaders by taking the screening function away
from the Interior Ministry. The directorate is also selecting police chiefs and other local office
holders, and in many cases has already begun removing allegedly corrupt local officials.
Part of its mission is to empower localities to decide on development projects by empowering
local “Development Councils.” The IDLG also has an ambitious plan of local elections from
In 2008, with the support of the Bush Administration, the IDLG launched the government’s
“Social Outreach Program,” intended to draw closer connections between tribes and localities to
the central government. The program includes small payments to tribal leaders and participants,
in part to keep them on the side of the government and to inform on Taliban insurgent
movements. Since its formation, the United States has provided over $103 million to the IDLG
for its strategic work plan and its operations and outreach (as of September 25, 2008). Of that,
about $8.5 million in FY2009 funds will assist the Social Outreach Program and related
“Governor’s Performance Fund.” The Social Outreach program’s security dimensions – primarily
the constitution of local security groupings and termed the “Community Guard Program” -- are
discussed later in this report.
Among the notable successes of the new emphasis of the gubernatorial appointments is the March
Mangal is considered a competent administrator, but he is from Laghman province, not Helmand,
somewhat to the consternation of Helmand residents. U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
and other officials say Mangal is taking effective action against poppy cultivation in the province,
but that he might not be receiving the needed help from the central government or international
donors that is needed. Some observers speculate that it is only British opposition that is
preventing Karzai from replacing Mangal with the former governor, Sher Muhammad Akunzadeh
(governor until 2005), who purportedly committed numerous human rights abuses in the course
of fighting the Taliban in the province and apparently remains powerful informally there.
The UNODC report on narcotics in August 2008 also credited the strong leadership of Ghul Agha
Shirzai, Nangarhar’s governor, for moving that province into the “poppy free” column in 2008.
The governor of Qandahar was changed (to former General Rahmatullah Raufi, replacing
Asadullah Khalid) after the August 7, 2008, Taliban assault on the Qandahar prison (Sarposa) that
led to the freeing of several hundred Taliban fighters incarcerated there. However, reflecting
continued political infighting over how best to stabilize Qandahar, Raufi was replaced in
December 2008 by Afghan-Canadian academic Tooryalai Wesa. Other governors said to
successful in helping stabilize and develop their provinces include Khost governor Arsala Jamal,
and Kabul province governor Hajji Din Mohammad, son of the slain “Jalalabad Shura” leader
Hajji Abd al-Qadir. At least four other governors are slated for replacement.
A component of U.S. efforts to strengthen governance has been maintaining a large and active
diplomatic presence. Zalmay Khalilzad, an American of Afghan origin, was ambassador during
December 2003-August 2005; he reportedly had significant influence on Afghan government 11
decisions. The current ambassador is William Wood, who previously was U.S. Ambassador to
Colombia and who has focused on the counter-narcotics issue. As part of a 2003 U.S. push on
reconstruction, the Bush Administration formed a 15-person Afghan Reconstruction Group
(ARG), placed within the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, to serve as advisors to the Afghan government.
The group is now mostly focused on helping Afghanistan attract private investment and develop
private industries. The U.S. embassy, now in newly constructed buildings, has progressively
expanded its personnel and facilities to several hundred. The tables at the end of this paper
discuss U.S. funding for State Department and USAID operations.
Although the Afghan government has increased its revenue and is covering a growing proportion
of its budget, USAID provides funding to help the Afghan government meet gaps in its budget—
both directly and through a U.N.-run multi-donor Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)
account. Those aid figures, for FY2002-FY2008, are in Table 14 at the end of the paper.
The Administration and Afghan government claim progress in building a democratic Afghanistan
that adheres to international standards of human rights practices and presumably is able to earn
the support of the Afghan people. The State Department report on human rights practices for 2007 12
(released March 11, 2008) said that Afghanistan’s human rights record remained “poor,” but
attributed this primarily to weak governance, corruption, drug trafficking, and the legacy of
decades of conflict. Virtually all observers agree that Afghans are freer than they were under the
Taliban. However, some recent restrictions appear to reflect the government’s sensitivity to
Afghanistan’s conservative nature rather than politically-motivated action.
The press is relatively free and Afghan political groupings and parties are able to meet and
organize freely, but there are also abuses based on ethnicity or political factionalism and arbitrary
implementation of justice by local leaders. In debate over a new press law, both houses of
parliament approved a joint version, but Karzai has vetoed it on the grounds that it gives the
government too much control over private media. Even in the absence of the law, media policy
remains highly conservative; in April 2008 the Ministry of Information and Culture banned five
Indian-produced soap operas on the grounds that they are too risque. The ban was later
overturned when the broadcasters agreed to also run Islamist-oriented programming from Turkey.
That came amid a move by conservative parliamentarians to pass legislation to ban loud music,
men and women mingling in public, video games, and other behavior common in the West. Since
the Taliban era, more than 40 private radio stations, seven television networks, and 350
independent newspapers have opened. At the same time, press reports and the State Department
say that there are growing numbers of arrests or intimidation of journalists who criticize the
central government or local leaders.
11 Waldman, Amy. “In Afghanistan, U.S. Envoy Sits in Seat of Power.” New York Times, April 17, 2004. Afghanistan’s
ambassador in Washington is Seyed Jalal Tawwab, formerly a Karzai aide.
12 For text, see http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100611.htm.
On religious freedom, some note that the government has reimposed some Islamic restrictions
that characterized Taliban rule, including the code of criminal punishments stipulated in Islamic
law. The death penalty has been re-instituted, reversing a 2004 moratorium declared by Karzai.
Fifteen convicts were executed at once on October 7, 2007. In January 2008, Afghanistan’s
“Islamic council,” composed of senior clerics, backed public executions for convicted murderers
and urged Karzai to end the activities of foreign organizations that are converting Afghans to
The State Department International Religious Freedom report for 2008 (released September 19,
2008) reported continued discrimination against the Shiite (Hazara) minority and some other
minorities such as Sikhs and Hindus, but that “Government and political leaders aspire to a
national environment that respects the right to religious freedom.” A Washington Post report of
January 4, 2009 highlighted the freedom Afghan Shiites now have to celebrate their holy days
openly. The Minister of Justice is a Shiite, a development many observers did not expect at any
time in Afghanistan. However, in May 2007, a directorate under the Supreme Court declared the
Baha’i faith to be a form of blasphemy. Recent indications of Afghanistan’s conservatism are the
demonstrations in March 2008 in several Afghan cities against Denmark and the Netherlands for
Danish cartoons and a Dutch film apparently criticizing aspects of Islam and its key symbols.
Other accounts say that alcohol is increasingly difficult to obtain in restaurants and stores.
On January 25, 2008, in a case that has implications for both religious and journalistic freedom, a
young reporter, Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, was sentenced in a quick trial to death for distributing a
website report to student peers questioning some precepts of Islam. On October 21, 2008, a Kabul
appeals court reduced his sentence to 20 years, but he continues to appeal. A previous religious
freedom case earned congressional attention in March 2006. An Afghan man, Abd al-Rahman,
who had converted to Christianity 16 years ago while working for a Christian aid group in
Pakistan, was imprisoned and faced a potential death penalty trial for apostasy—his refusal to
convert back to Islam. Facing international pressure, Karzai prevailed on Kabul court authorities
to release him on March 29, 2006. His release came the same day the House passed H.Res. 736
calling on the Afghan government to protect Afghan converts from prosecution.
Afghanistan was again placed in Tier 2 in the State Department report on human trafficking
issued in June 2008 (Trafficking in Persons Report for 2008). The government is assessed as not
complying with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, but making significant efforts to
do so. The says that women (reportedly from China and Central Asia) are being trafficked into
Afghanistan for sexual exploitation. Other reports say some are brought to work in night clubs
purportedly frequented by members of many international NGOs. In an effort to also increase
protections for Afghan women, in August 2008 the Interior Ministry announced a crackdown on
sexual assault—an effort to publicly air a taboo subject. The United States has spent $500,000 to
eliminate human trafficking in Afghanistan since FY2001.
An Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) was formed in 2002 to monitor
government performance and has been credited in State Department reports with successful
interventions to curb abuses. Headed by former Women’s Affairs minister Sima Samar, it also
conducts surveys of how Afghans view governance and reconstruction efforts. The House-passed
Afghan Freedom Support Act (AFSA) re-authorization bill (H.R. 2446) would authorize $10
million per year for this Commission until FY2010.
According to State Department human rights reports, the Afghan government is promoting the
advancement of women, but numerous abuses, such as denial of educational and employment
opportunities, continue primarily because of Afghanistan’s conservative traditions. A major
development in post-Taliban Afghanistan was the formation of a Ministry of Women’s Affairs
dedicated to improving women’s rights, although numerous accounts say the ministry’s influence
is limited and it is now headed by a male, (the deputy minister is female). Among other activities,
it promotes the involvement of women in business ventures.
Three female ministers were in the 2004-2006 cabinet: former presidential candidate Masooda
Jalal (Ministry of Women’s Affairs), Sediqa Balkhi (Minister for Martyrs and the Disabled), and
Amina Afzali (Minister of Youth). However, Karzai nominated only one (Minister of Women’s
Affairs Soraya Sobhrang) in the cabinet that followed the parliamentary elections, and she was
voted down by Islamist conservatives in parliament, leaving no women in the cabinet. (The
deputy minister is a female.) In March 2005, Karzai appointed a former Minister of Women’s
Affairs, Habiba Sohrabi, as governor of Bamiyan province, inhabited mostly by Hazaras. (She
hosted visiting First Lady Laura Bush during her visit to Bamiyan in June 2008.) The constitution
reserves for women at least 17 of the 102 seats in the upper house and 68 of the 249 seats in the
lower house of parliament. Some women were elected even without the set-asides, and there are
23 serving in the upper house. There are also 121 women holding seats in the 420 provincial
council seats nationwide. However, some NGOs and other groups believe that the women elected
by the quota system are not viewed as equally legitimate parliamentarians.
More generally, women are performing jobs that were rarely held by women even before the
Taliban came to power in 1996, including in the new police force. There are now 67 female
judges and 447 female journalists working nationwide. The most senior Afghan woman in the
police force was assassinated in Qandahar in September 2008. Press reports say Afghan women
are increasingly learning how to drive. Under the new government, the wearing of the full body
covering called the burqa is no longer obligatory, and fewer women are wearing it than was the
case a few years ago. On the other hand, women’s advancement has made women a target of
Taliban attacks. Attacks on girls’ schools and athletic facilities have increased in the most restive
areas. On November 12, 2008, suspected Taliban sprayed acid on the faces of several schoolgirls
U.S. officials have had some influence in persuading the government to codify women’s rights.
After the Karzai government took office, the United States and the new Afghan government set
up a U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council to coordinate the allocation of resources to Afghan women.
According to the State Department, the United States has implemented over 175 projects directly
in support of Afghan women, including women’s empowerment, maternal and child health and
nutrition, funding the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, micro-finance projects, and like programs.
The Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002 (AFSA, P.L. 107-327) authorized $15 million per
year (FY2003-FY2006) for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The House-passed AFSA
reauthorization (H.R. 2446) would authorize $5 million per year for this Ministry. Appropriations
for programs for women and girls are contained in the tables at the end of this report.
Since FY2001, USAID has spent $1.9 billion on governance, democracy, and rule of law
programs, including: support for elections, civil society programs, political party strengthening,
media freedom, and local governance. Another $248 million for these functions was requested for
Narcotics trafficking is regarded by some as one of the most significant problems facing
Afghanistan, generating what U.S. commanders estimate to be about $100 million per year for the
Taliban. Afghanistan is the source of about 93% of the world’s illicit opium supply, and according th
to UNODC, “... leaving aside 19 Century China, no country in the world has ever produced
narcotics on such a deadly scale.”
Some tentative signs of progress have begun to emerge, although it is not certain whether the
progress will be sustained. The UNODC report of November 2008 was the most positive such
report since at least 2005, saying: “The opium flood waters in Afghanistan have started to
recede.” The estimate is based on a drop in area under opium cultivation of 19%, an overall
opium production drop of 6%, and a large increase in the number of “poppy free provinces” from
13 in the 2007 report to 18 (out of 34 total provinces) now. The UNODC report attributed the
progress to strong leadership by some governors (Atta Mohammad of Balkh, Ghul Agha Shirzai
of Nangarhar, and Monshi Abdul Majid of Badakhshan, in particular); as well as to drought that
contributed to crop failure in some areas. Still, there is poppy cultivation growth in Helmand
Province (which now produces about 65% of Afghanistan’s total poppy crop) and other southern
provinces where the Taliban insurgency is highly active. There is also a trend indicating that some
poppy growers are turning to marijuana cultivation and trafficking, perhaps sensing less pressure
on that activity. On June 11, 2008, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1817, called for
greater international cooperation to stop the movement of chemical precursors used to process
opium into Afghanistan.
In March 2007 the Administration created a post of Coordinator for Counter-Narcotics and
Justice Reform in Afghanistan, naming Thomas Schweich of the Bureau of International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) to that post. The U.S. strategy still follows Schweich’s
August 9, 2007, announced program that seeks to better integrate counter-narcotics and counter-14
insurgency, and to enhance alternative livelihoods. Schwiech departed that post in June 2008
and, as noted above, has written opinion pieces critical of U.S. and Afghan counter-narcotics
strategy in Afghanistan. Encouraging alternative livelihoods is the preferred emphasis of the
Afghan government, and the Afghan side maintains that narcotics flourish in areas where there is
no security, and not the other way around. The United States has provided (in 2008) $38 million
in “Good Performers” funds to provinces that have eliminated poppy cultivation.
U.S. officials emphasize eradication. In concert with interdiction and building up alternative
livelihoods, U.S.-trained Afghanistan counter-narcotics police eradicate poppy fields by cutting
down the crop manually on the ground. However, there has been debate between some in the U.S.
13 For a detailed discussion and U.S. funding on the issue, see CRS Report RL32686, Afghanistan: Narcotics and U.S.
Policy, by Christopher M. Blanchard.
14 Text of the strategy, see http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/rpt/90561.htm#section1.
government, including Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood, and Karzai over whether to
conduct spraying of fields, particularly by air. President Karzai strongly opposed aerial spraying,
arguing that doing so would cause a backlash among Afghan farmers; he appears to have won this
argument. On June 12, 2008, Afghan officials announced seizing 260 tons of hashish in Qandahar
Province, perhaps the world’s largest drug bust.
Using U.S. and NATO forces to combat narcotics is another facet under debate. Some NATO
contributors, such as Britain, have focused on interdicting traffickers and raiding drug labs. At a
NATO meeting on October 10, 2008, NATO accepted a policy of using force against narcotics
traffickers. Under the agreement, each country can choose to keep their forces out of such
missions, and press reports say that several NATO nations have done just that, hampering
implementation of the October 2008 agreement. U.S. troops deploying to Helmand in 2008 have
not specifically acted against poppy fields, deliberately to avoid angering the local population on
which the success of U.S. operations depend. Congress has to date sided with Karzai’s view; the
FY2008 Consolidated Appropriation (P.L. 110-161) prohibits U.S. counter-narcotics funding from
being used for aerial spraying on Afghanistan poppy fields.
The U.S. military, in support of the effort after initial reluctance, is flying Afghan and U.S.
counter-narcotics agents (Drug Enforcement Agency, DEA) on missions and identifying targets; it
also evacuates casualties from counter-drug operations. The Department of Defense is also
playing the major role in training and equipping specialized Afghan counter-narcotics police, in
developing an Afghan intelligence fusion cell, and training Afghan border police, as well as
assisting an Afghan helicopter squadron to move Afghan counter-narcotics forces around the
country. The Bush Administration has taken some legal steps against suspected Afghan drug 15
traffickers; in April 2005, a DEA operation successfully caught the alleged leading Afghan
narcotics trafficker, Haji Bashir Noorzai, arresting him after a flight to New York. The United
States is funding a new Counternarcotics Justice Center (estimated cost, $8 million) in Kabul to 16
prosecute and incarcerate suspected traffickers.
The Bush Administration has repeatedly named Afghanistan (and again in the February 2008
State Department INCSR report discussed above) as a major illicit drug producer and drug transit
country, but has not included Afghanistan on a smaller list of countries that have “failed
demonstrably to make substantial efforts” to adhere to international counter-narcotics agreements 17
and take certain counter-narcotics measures set forth in U.S. law. The Administration has
exercised waiver provisions (the last was published in the Federal Register in May 2006) to a
required certification of full Afghan cooperation that was needed to provide more than $225
million in recent U.S. economic assistance appropriations for Afghanistan. A similar certification
requirement (to provide amounts over $300 million) is contained in the House version of the
FY2008 appropriation (P.L. 110-161). Other provisions on counter-narcotics, such as
recommending a pilot crop substitution program and cutting U.S. aid to any Afghan province
whose officials are determined complicit in drug trafficking, are contained in H.R. 2446 (AFSA
reauthorization). Narcotics trafficking control was perhaps the one issue on which the Taliban
regime satisfied much of the international community; the Taliban enforced a July 2000 ban on
15 Cameron-Moore, Simon. “U.S. to Seek Indictment of Afghan Drug Barons.” Reuters, November 2, 2004.
16 Risen, James. “Poppy Fields Are Now a Front Line in Afghanistan War.” New York Times, May 16, 2007.
17 Afghanistan had been so designated every year during 1987-2002.
poppy cultivation, which purportedly dramatically decreased cultivation.18 The Northern Alliance
did not issue a similar ban in areas it controlled.
The top security priority of the United States has been to prevent the Taliban and its allies from
challenging the Afghan government as that government builds capacity to defend itself. The
security efforts are part of the “nation-building” priorities discussed in previous sections, intended
to weaken popular support for the Taliban by promoting economic and political development and
eliminating the sources of funding for the insurgency. The pillars of U.S. security strategy are (1)
continuing combat operations by U.S. forces and a NATO-led International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF); (2) U.S. and NATO operation of “provincial reconstruction teams” (PRTs) that
promote economic development; (3) the equipping and training of an Afghan National Army
(ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) force; and (4) more recently, efforts to promote local
approaches to security and to try to engage Taliban commanders who might want to end their
Security is being challenged by a confluence of related armed groups—not only the ousted
Taliban still centered around Mullah Umar. Mullah Umar and many of his top advisers remain at
large, believed in Pakistan in and around the city of Quetta, according to Afghan officials
(“Quetta Shura”). One of his Umar’s top deputies still at large is Mullah Bradar. Umar continues
to run a so-called “shadow government” from his safehaven, and the Taliban has several official
spokespersons, including Qari Yusuf Ahmadi and Zabiullah Mujahid, and it operates a clandestine
radio station, “Voice of Shariat,” and publishes videos.
The Taliban is allied with Al Qaeda, other Afghan insurgent groups, and, increasingly, Pakistani
militants such as Beitullah Mehsud. U.S. commanders say that, with increased freedom of action
in Pakistan, Al Qaeda militants are increasingly facilitating, through financing and recruiting,
militant incursions in Afghanistan. As of mid-2008, according to U.S. commanders, an increasing
number of foreign fighters are being captured or killed in battles in Afghanistan, although Afghan
nationals still constitute the overwhelming majority of insurgents there.
The two most notable Al Qaeda leaders at large, and believed in Pakistan, are Osama bin Laden
himself and his close ally, Ayman al-Zawahiri. A purported U.S.-led strike reportedly missed
Zawahiri by a few hours in the village of Damadola, Pakistan, in January 2006, suggesting that 19
the United States and Pakistan have some intelligence on his movements. A strike in late
18 Crossette, Barbara. “Taliban Seem to Be Making Good on Opium Ban, U.N. Says.” New York Times, February 7,
19 Gall, Carlotta and Ismail Khan. “U.S. Drone Attack Missed Zawahiri by Hours.” New York Times, November 10,
January 2008, in an area near Damadola, killed Abu Laith al-Libi, a reported senior Al Qaeda
figure who purportedly masterminded, among other operations, the bombing at Bagram Air Base
in February 2007 when Vice President Cheney was visiting. In August 2008, an airstrike was
confirmed to have killed Al Qaeda chemical weapons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, and two
senior operatives allegedly involved in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa reportedly were
killed by a Predator strike in January 2009. However, there have been no recent public indications
that U.S. or allied forces have learned or are close to learning bin Laden’s location.
Another “high value target” identified by U.S. commanders is the Hikmatyar faction (Hizb-e-
Islami Gulbuddin, HIG) allied with Al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents. His fighters are operating in
Kunar, Nuristan, and Nangarhar provinces, east of Kabul. On February 19, 2003, the U.S.
government formally designated Hikmatyar as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” under
the authority of Executive Order 13224, subjecting it to financial and other U.S. sanctions. (It is
not formally designated as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.”) On July 19, 2007, Hikmatyar
expressed a willingness to discuss a cease-fire with the Karzai government, although no firm
reconciliation talks were held. In 2008, he has again discussed possible reconciliation, only later
to issued statements suggesting he will continue his fight.
Yet another militant faction is led by Jalaludin Haqqani and his eldest son, Siraj. Haqqani, who
served as Minister of Tribal Affairs in the Taliban regime of 1996-2001, is believed closer to Al
Qaeda than to the ousted Taliban leadership in part because one of his wives is purportedly Arab.
The group is active around Khost Province. Haqqani property inside Pakistan has been repeatedly
targeted since September 2008 by U.S. strikes.
In the four years after the fall of the Taliban, U.S. forces and Afghan troops fought relatively low
levels of Taliban insurgent violence. The United States and Afghanistan conducted “Operation
Mountain Viper” (August 2003); “Operation Avalanche” (December 2003); “Operation Mountain
Storm” (March-July 2004) against Taliban remnants in and around Uruzgan province, home
province of Mullah Umar; “Operation Lightning Freedom” (December 2004-February 2005); and
“Operation Pil (Elephant)” in Kunar Province in the east (October 2005). By late 2005, U.S. and
partner commanders had believed that the combat, coupled with overall political and economic
reconstruction, had virtually ended any insurgency.
An increase in violence beginning in mid-2006 took some U.S. commanders by surprise, and
Taliban insurgents have increasingly adapting suicide and roadside bombing characteristic of the
Iraq insurgency. There is no agreement on the causes of the deterioration—reasons advanced
include Afghan government corruption; the absence of governance in many rural areas; safehaven
enjoyed by militants in Pakistan; the reticence of some NATO contributors to actively combat
insurgents; and the slow pace of economic development.
The main theater of combat—where all of these factors converge—is southern Afghanistan:
particularly, Uruzgan, Helmand, and Qandahar provinces—areas that NATO/ISAF assumed
primary responsibility for on July 31, 2006. NATO counter-offensives in 2006 were only
temporary successes, including such operations as Operation Mountain Lion, Operation Mountain
Thrust, and Operation Medusa (August-September 2006). The latter ousted Taliban fighters from
the Panjwai district near Qandahar. In the aftermath of Medusa, British forces—who believe in
working more with tribal leaders as part of negotiated local solutions—entered into an agreement
with tribal elders in the Musa Qala district of Helmand Province, under which they would secure
the main town of the district without an active NATO presence. That strategy failed when the
Taliban took over Musa Qala town in February 2007. A NATO offensive in December 2007
retook it, although there continue to be recriminations between the Britain, on the one side, and
the United States and Karzai, on the other, over the wisdom of the original British deal. Some
Taliban activity continues on the outskirts of the district.
Since the Taliban “resurgence,” NATO has been trying to implemented a more integrated strategy
involving pre-emptive combat, increased development work, and a more unified command
structure. U.S. and partner country troop levels have been increasing significantly. NATO/ISAF
has led peacekeeping operations nationwide since October 5, 2006, and more than half of the U.S.
troops in Afghanistan (numbers are in the security indicators table below) are under NATO
command. The remainder are part of the original post-September 11 anti-terrorism mission
Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
The NATO/ISAF force is headed by U.S. Gen. David McKiernan. As of October 2008, he also
commands all U.S. troops in Afghanistan—those in OEF as well as those in NATO/ISAF—
commander of “U.S. Forces Afghanistan.” McKiernan took over the NATO/ISAF command on
June 3, 2008, from U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill. (McNeill had taken over in February 2007 from U.K.
General David Richards.) “U.S. Forces Afghanistan” was created to improve flexibility of
deployment of U.S. forces throughout the battlefield. Gen. McKiernan and his successors also
report to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM, headed as of October 31, 2008, by General David
Petraeus, formerly top U.S. commander in Iraq) not only to NATO headquarters. The command
restructuring implies that NATO/ISAF will be led by an American commander for the foreseeable
future, but U.S. officials say that the OEF and NATO/ISAF missions will not formally merge.
Whether under NATO or OEF, most U.S. forces in Afghanistan are in eastern Afghanistan and are
under the operational command of Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser as head of Combined Joint Task st
Force 101 (CJTF-101, named for the 101 Airborne Division, headquartered at Bagram Air Base
north of Kabul).
Incremental costs of U.S. operations in Afghanistan appear to be running about $2.5 to 3 billion
per month. The FY2008 Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 110-181, Section 1229) requires a
quarterly DOD report on the security situation in Afghanistan; the first was submitted in June
2008. For further information, see CRS Report RL33110, The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and
Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, by Amy Belasco.
Prior to NATO assumption of command, 19 coalition countries—primarily Britain, France,
Canada, and Italy—were contributing approximately 4,000 combat troops to OEF. With the
exception of a few foreign contingents, composed mainly of special operations forces, including a
small unit from the UAE, almost all foreign partners that were part of OEF have now been “re-
badged” to the NATO-led ISAF mission. Until December 2007, 200 South Korean forces at
Bagram Air Base (mainly combat engineers) were part of OEF; they left in December 2007 in
fulfillment of an August 2007, agreement under which Taliban militants released 21 kidnapped 20
South Korean church group visitors.
Japan provided naval refueling capabilities in the Arabian sea, but the mission was suspended in
October 2007 following a parliamentary change of majority there in July 2007. The mission was
revived in January 2008 when the new government forced through parliament a bill to allow the
mission to resume. It was renewed again, over substantial parliamentary opposition, in December
2008. In July 2008, Japan decided against expanding the mission of its Self Defense Forces to
include some reconstruction activities in Afghanistan. Japan is already the third largest individual
country donor to Afghanistan, providing about $1.9 billion in civilian reconstruction aid since the
fall of the Taliban. It has been requested to be a major financial donor of an Afghan army
expansion, discussed below. As part of OEF, the United States leads a multi-national naval anti-
terrorist, anti-smuggling, anti-proliferation interdiction mission in the Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea,
headquartered in Bahrain. That mission was expanded after the fall of Saddam Hussein to include
protecting Iraqi oil platforms in the Gulf.
During 2007, U.S. and NATO forces, bolstered by the infusion of 3,200 U.S. troops and 3,800
partner forces, pre-empted an anticipated Taliban “spring offensive” with “Operation Achilles”
(March 2007) in the Sangin district of northern Helmand Province, around the Kajaki dam. The
Taliban offensive did not materialize at the levels expected. The operations (including Operation
Silicon) had a major success on May 12, 2007, when the purportedly ruthless leader of the
Taliban insurgency in the south, Mullah Dadullah, was killed in Helmand Province. His brother,
Mansoor, replaced him as leader of that faction but was arrested crossing into Pakistan in
February 2008. On the other hand, in 2007, the United States also found worrisome the Taliban’s
first use (unsuccessful) of a surface-to-air missile (SAM-7, shoulder held) against a U.S. C-130
Despite the stepped-up coalition military activity, in 2008, a perception of increasing concern
took hold within the U.S. command structure. This was reflected in such statements as one in
September 2008 by Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen that “I’m not sure we’re
winning” in Afghanistan, as well as one by him on October 10, 2008, that “I anticipate next year
 would be a tougher year.” Other assessments, such as an assessment by a top British
commander as reported in a purported French diplomatic cable October 2008, were even more
pessimistic, indicating the war was being lost. A reported draft U.S. intelligence estimate on
Afghanistan, according to the New York Times (October 9, 2008), described Afghanistan as in a
“downward spiral”—language used also by new Commander of U.S. Central Command General
David Petraeus (who took over CENTCOM on October 31). However, in a November 18, 2008,
appearance at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., Gen. McKiernan said he does not
subscribe to that characterization. Gen. McKiernan acknowledges setbacks but says there are also
positive indicators in many parts of Afghanistan.
The indicators that feed the pessimistic assessments include (1) 2007 recording the most U.S.
combat casualties, of the war so far; (2) numbers of suicide bombings at a post-Taliban high; (3)
20 Two were killed during their captivity. The Taliban kidnappers did not get the demanded release of 23 Taliban
prisoners held by the Afghan government.
number of roadside bombings (2,000 in 2008) also at a post-Taliban high; (4) expanding Taliban
operations in provinces where it had not previously been active, including Lowgar, Wardak, and
Kapisa, close to Kabul; (5) high profile attacks in Kabul against targets that are either well
defended or in highly populated centers, such as the January 14, 2008, attack on the Serena Hotel
in Kabul and the July 7, 2008, suicide bombing at the gates of the Indian Embassy in Kabul,
killing more than 50; (6) the April 27, 2008, assassination attempt on Karzai during a military
parade celebrating the ouster of the Soviet Union; (7) a June 12, 2008, Sarposa prison break in
Qandahar (several hundred Taliban captives were freed, as part of an emptying of the 1,200
inmates there); (8) a reported 40% rise in attacks (over 2007 figures) in the U.S.-led eastern
sector; (9) the July 13, 2008, on a U.S. outpost in Nuristan Province that killed nine U.S. soldiers;
and (10) a August 18, 2008, attack that killed ten French soldiers near Sarobi, 30 miles northeast
of Kabul. Contributing to the sense of deterioration have been reports that the Taliban, in some
areas under their control, are setting up courts and other “shadow government” structures.
The attack on Sarposa prison particularly shook confidence in U.S. and NATO policy because,
subsequently, some of the freed militants fanned out north of Qandahar and took over up to nine
villages in nearby Arghandhab district, prompting a NATO-Afghan counterattack. The counter-
offensive was declared successful by June 21. In October 2008, Taliban militants massed near the
capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah, but were defeated by NATO forces before launching an actual
The upsurge in attacks in the eastern sector has caused particular consternation because,
throughout 2007, U.S. commanders were heralding substantial progress in reducing Taliban
attacks in that sector. The progress was attributed to the fact that U.S. troops—those of which are
under NATO/ISAF and those under OEF are mostly in the eastern sector—were able to achieve
significant coverage of the area to be able to hold territory and accomplish construction and
governance expansion. U.S. and NATO forces plan to expand civilian development efforts during
the winter of 2008-2009, as well as to continue combat through the winter, to try to blunt militant
activity in spring of 2009. Some U.S. commanders say the sector already has calmed considerably
since November 2008, although some of this trend could be caused by the colder weather. Amid
the setbacks, U.S. commanders say that the violence needs to be placed in perspective: 70% of
the violence in Afghanistan occurs in 10% of Afghanistan’s 364 districts, an area including about
6% of the Afghan population. U.S. commanders say that militants crossing the border account for
about 30% of all attacks in Afghanistan.
Some believe that the Taliban are benefitting not only from Karzai governmental corruption, but
from Afghan civilian casualties caused by U.S. or NATO airstrikes. One such disputed incident
occurred near Herat on August 22, 2008, that UNAMA said killed 90 civilians but U.S.
investigators say killed only 30 non-combatants. Another incident occurred in early November
2008 in which an alleged 37 Afghan civilians at a wedding party were killed. In public
statements, Karzai has been increasingly critical of errant strikes that cause collateral damage.
NATO is reportedly examining using smaller air force munitions to limit collateral damage from
air strikes, but commanders say that a key is to add ground troops and lessen dependence on
To address the widespread perception of deterioration, the Bush Administration concluded in
early 2008 that the United States needed to focus attention and provide additional resources than
it had previously. Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen largely confirmed the perception that the Afghan
battlefield was “under-resourced” in December 11, 2007, congressional testimony. Similar
findings were emphasized in outside assessments of Afghanistan policy, including a report in 21
November 2007 by the Senlis Council; a January 2008 study by the Atlantic Council (“Saving
Afghanistan: An Appeal and Plan for Urgent Action”) and a January 30, 2008, study by the
Center for the Study of the Presidency (“Afghanistan Study Group Report”), as well as several
congressional hearings. These assessments contributed to a decision by Secretary of Defense
Gates, in January 2008, to deploy an additional 3,200 Marines to southern Afghanistan (for seven
months, later extended through November 2008), of which about 1,000 train Afghan security
forces. Upon deploying, the Marines cleared Taliban militants from the Garmar district of
As the perception of deterioration continued, it was reported in September 2008 that both the U.S.
military and NATO were conducting a number of different strategy reviews. The reviews were, in
part, intended to prevent an unraveling of the effort from the time of the U.S. election until
President-elect Obama takes over. Another intention was to try to help the incoming Obama
Administration formulate its strategy. Many experts appear to agree that there is a need to better
integrate military approaches with enhanced efforts to build Afghan government capacity and
accomplish economic development in a classic counter-insurgency strategy that secures and wins
support of the Afghan population. Others believe that the complexities of Afghanistan limit what
can be achieved, and that the United States can achieve the quickest gains by focusing on how to
prevent the movement of militants across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
One review, reported by the Washington Post (October 9, 2008), is headed by Lt. Gen. Douglas
Lute, the Administration’s senior adviser on Iraq and Afghanistan; others have been under way at
the Department of Defense, at CENTCOM, at NATO, and at the State Department. The Lute
review and possibly some of the others have been completed and briefed to Secretary of Defense
Gates and to the Obama transition team. The President-elect has indicated he wants to place
greater emphasis on Afghanistan relative to Iraq than was the case during the Bush
Administration, but press reports say there is disagreement over what aspects of strategy should
No matter what strategy is decided, it is clear that U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan will increase.
It was announced in September 2008 by President Bush that about 5,000 more U.S. forces would
be sent to Afghanistan by early 2009; the deployment of an army aviation brigade (3,000) was
approved in late December 2008—days after President Bush’s December 15, 2008 visit to
Afghanistan (his second as President). Those forces have arrived and begun to deploy in Lowgar
and Wardak provinces, south of Kabul, where there has been significant Taliban infiltration in
General McKiernan has requested another 20,000-25,000 troops beyond that, including support
forces and any foreign partners additions that might be contributed. Secretary of Defense Gates
said in late November 2008 that these forces will be sent, at least in part to help secure the 2009
Afghan elections. Many of these extra U.S. forces will likely be deployed to Helmand and other
parts of the southern sector. Some of the forces will also train and mentor the Afghan security
forces; and others will likely be sent to try to shore up the eastern sector and prevent militant
infiltration from Pakistan. Some equate the planned buildup to the Afghanistan equivalent of the
21 Text of the report is at http://www.senliscouncil.net/modules/publications/Afghanistan_on_the_brink/documents/
U.S. “troop surge” that is credited with greatly reducing violence in Iraq. Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates solicited more force contributions at meetings in Europe in October 2008, and,
based on some of their responses, it is likely that any new buildups will consist mostly of
American forces, although Britain might send 3,000 (to Helmand). That would adding to the 300
more British forces whose deployment was announced in December 2008. The timing of U.S.
additions might depend on the rate of drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Beyond the addition of troops, there is a growing question of equipment. Some experts say that
the United States is too reliant on armor in Afghanistan which is not suited for Afghanistan’s poor
roads and steep mountain passes. Others say there should be more emphasis on mobility provided
by more helicopters and on greater availability of aerial surveillance assets. In July 2008, the
Defense Department deployed an additional aircraft carrier to the Afghanistan theater to provide
additional air strike capability, and there are reported plans to add AWACs surveillance aircraft to
the Afghan theater.
Others—including President Karzai and Defense Secretary Gates (who will be staying under
under Obama)—question whether adding more troops will produce major security gains, believe
that Afghanistan’s difficulties are complex. Secretary Gates has said that adding too many troops
could create among the Afghan people a sense of “occupation” that could prove counter-
productive. Some believe that a wholesale strategy change should be considered that focuses far
more on development work and eliminating corruption in the Afghan government. Some
commanders say there needs to be a greater emphasis on regional solutions. In a January 9, 2009
speech in Washington, D.C., Gen. Petraeus raised the issue of engaging Iran on such issues of
mutual interest in Afghanistan as stopping narcotics trafficking.
On the other hand, those advocating more troops say that permissive security conditions need to
be created in order to then carry out reform and development. U.S. officials also want to use
Taliban abuses to discredit it in the eyes of Afghans. This strategy could be furthered by the
popular protests against the Taliban in some cities unleashed by the Taliban’s killing of 27
Afghans riding in a bus in southern Afghanistan (October 20, 2008). Other adjustments under
way include the training of tribal militias who want to secure their communities (see below) as
part of the Social Outreach Program discussed above.
Other parts of the enhanced U.S. strategy are to conduct and fund a major expansion of the
Afghan National Army, and to probably take over the command of Regional Command-South in
November 2010, after rotations by the Netherlands (2008-2009) and Britain (2009-2010). In the
interim, as of the fall of 2008, a one-star U.S. general, John Nicholson, became deputy
commander of Regional Command South to give the U.S. force added weight at that
headquarters. Negotiations With the Taliban
There is growing U.S. support for new Afghan efforts to bring Taliban fighters off the battlefield
and into the political process. President Karzai has consistently advocated talks with Taliban
militants who want to consider ending their fight. Noted above is the “Program for Strengthening
Peace and Reconciliation” (referred to in Afghanistan by its Pashto acronym “PTS”) headed by
Meshrano Jirga speaker Sibghatullah Mojadeddi and overseen by Karzai’s National Security
Council. The program is credited with persuading 5,000 Taliban figures and commanders to
renounce violence and joint the political process. Several Taliban figures, including its foreign
minister Wakil Mutawwakil, ran in the parliamentary elections. The Taliban official who was
governor of Bamiyan Province when the Buddha statues there were blown up, Mohammad Islam
Mohammedi—and who was later elected to the post-Taliban parliament from Samangan
Province—was assassinated in Kabul in January 2007. In September 2007, Karzai offered to meet
with Mullah Umar himself, appearing thereby to backtrack on earlier statements that about 100-
150 of the top Taliban leadership would not be eligible for amnesty. The Taliban rejected the
offer, saying they would not consider reconciling until (1) all foreign troops leave Afghanistan;
(2) a new “Islamic” constitution is adopted; and (3) Islamic law is imposed.
The issue gained momentum in October 2008 with press reports that Afghan officials and Taliban
members had met each other in Ramadan-related gatherings in Saudi Arabia in September 2008.
However, both sides said there were no formal negotiations on a political settlement at those
meetings. Britain has expressed support for such talks and, on October 2008, Secretary Gates said
the United States could “ultimately” consider such talks if doing so would produce a political
settlement in Afghanistan. General Petraeus has indicated similar support for negotiated solutions.
U.S. officials say the United States would not, however, undertake talks with Al Qaeda members,
or with Mullah Umar. Another round of government-Taliban talks is reportedly planned to be held
in Saudi Arabia in early 2009.
Since June 2006, Karzai and international force donors have been considering arming some local
tribal militias (arbokai) in eastern Afghanistan, building on established tribal structures, to help in
local policing. Karzai argued that these militias provide security and are loyal to the nation and
central government and that arming them is not inconsistent with the disarmament programs
discussed above. Until mid-2008, U.S. military commanders opposed assisting tribal militias
anywhere in Afghanistan for fear of creating new rivals to the central government, but the urgent
security needs in Afghanistan caused re-consideration. The upper house of the Afghan parliament
also passed a resolution in November 2008 opposing the concept.
Despite the reservations, since September 2008, press reports have said that there will be Afghan-
led coordination of tribal or local militias as part of a broader emphasis on local (“bottom-up”)
solutions to security. The militia formation will be conducted as part of the IDLG’s Social
Outreach Program, which was discussed above, and is intended to strengthen the ability of local
communities to keep Taliban infiltrators out. It is being termed the “Community Guard” program,
and will be funded with DoD (CERP) funds. Participants in the program will be given a reported
$200 per month. General Petraeus endorsed this new tactic during his first visit to Afghanistan as
CENTCOM commander on November 5, 2008. The formation of the local militias is reportedly
to begin in Wardak Province in early 2009 and then be tested in Ghazni, Lowgar, and Kapisa
provinces. U.S. commanders say that no U.S. weapons will be supplied to the militias, but this is
an Afghan-led program and some reports say the Afghan government might provide weapons to
the local armed groups. Although U.S. commanders say they will be able to keep the militias
“under control,” some experts fear that the militias could become an additional source of arbitrary
administration of justice and of corruption against local populations, and question the apparent
U.S./Afghan deviation from the post-September 11 commitment to building the central
government as the only legitimate source of Afghan armed force.
U.S. forces operate in Afghanistan under a “status of forces agreement” (SOFA) between the
United States and the interim government of Afghanistan in November 2002; the agreement gives
the United States legal jurisdiction over U.S. personnel serving in Afghanistan and stated the
Afghan government’s acknowledgment that U.S.-led military operations were “ongoing.” Even if
the Taliban insurgency ends, Afghan leaders say they want the United States to maintain a long-
term presence in Afghanistan. On May 8, 2005, Karzai summoned about 1,000 delegates to a
consultative jirga in Kabul on whether to host permanent U.S. bases. They supported an
indefinite presence of international forces to maintain security but urged Karzai to delay a 22
decision. On May 23, 2005, Karzai and President Bush issued a “joint declaration” providing
for U.S. forces to have access to Afghan military facilities, in order to prosecute “the war against
international terror and the struggle against violent extremism.” The joint statement did not give
Karzai enhanced control over facilities used by U.S. forces, over U.S. operations, or over
prisoners taken during operations. Some of the bases, both in and near Afghanistan, that support
combat in Afghanistan, include those in the table. In order to avoid the impression that foreign
forces are “occupying” Afghanistan, NATO said on August 15, 2006, that it would negotiate an
agreement with Afghanistan to formalize the NATO presence in Afghanistan and stipulate 15
initiatives to secure Afghanistan and rebuild its security forces.
The August 22, 2008, incident in Herat might have prompted some Afghan reconsideration of the
status of forces arrangements in operation. After the incident, the Afghan cabinet demanded
negotiation of a more formal status of forces agreement that would spell out the combat
authorities of non-Afghan forces, and would limit the U.S. of airstrikes, detentions, and house 23
raids. In late November 2008, at a multi-lateral conference, Karzai called for a timetable for a
withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, perhaps borrowing from similar nationalistic
calls by the government of Iraq in its negotiations with the United States.
22 See http://www.mfa.gov.af/Documents/ImportantDoc/US-
23 Gall, Carlotta. Two Afghans Lose Posts Over Attack. New York Times, August 25, 2008.
Table 2. Afghan and Regional Facilities Used for
Operations in Afghanistan
Bagram Air 50 miles north of Kabul, the operational hub of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and base for CJTF-101
Base and Gen. Schloesser. At least 500 U.S. military personnel are based there. Handles many of the
150 U.S. aircraft (including helicopters) in country. Hospital constructed, one of the first
permanent structures there. FY2005 supplemental (P.L. 109-13) provided about $52 million for
various projects to upgrade facilities at Bagram, including a control tower and an operations
center, and the FY2006 supplemental appropriation (P.L. 109-234) provides $20 million for military
construction there. NATO also using the base and sharing operational costs.
Qandahar Air Just outside Qandahar, the hub of military operations in the south. Turned over from U.S. to
Field NATO/ISAF control in late 2006 in conjunction with NATO assumption of peacekeeping
responsibilities. Being enhanced (along with other facilities in the south) at cost of $1.3 billion in
expectation of more U.S.-led combat in the south.
Shindand Air In Farah province, about 20 miles from Iran border. Used by U.S. forces and combat aircraft since
Base October 2004, after the dismissal of Herat governor Ismail Khan, whose militia forces controlled
Peter Ganci Used by 1,200 U.S. military personnel as well as refueling and cargo aircraft. Leadership of
Base: Manas, Kyrgyzstan changed in April 2005 in an uprising against President Askar Akayev, but senior U.S.
Kyrgyzstan officials reportedly received assurances about continued U.S. use of the base from his successor,
Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Bakiyev demanded a large increase in the $2 million per year U.S.
contribution for use of the base; dispute eased in July 2006 with U.S. agreement to give Kyrgyzstan
$150 million in assistance and base use payments.
Incirlik Air About 2,100 U.S. military personnel there; U.S. aircraft supply U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Base, Turkey U.S. use repeatedly extended for one year intervals by Turkey.
Al Dhafra, UAE Air base used by about 1,800 U.S. military personnel, to supply U.S. forces and related transport
into Iraq and Afghanistan.
Al Udeid Air Largest air facility used by U.S. in region. About 5,000 U.S. personnel in Qatar. Houses central air
Base, Qatar operations coordination center for U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan; also houses CENTCOM
Naval Support U.S. naval command headquarters for OEF anti-smuggling, anti-terrorism, and anti-proliferation
Facility, Bahrain naval search missions, and Iraq-related naval operations (oil platform protection) in the Persian
Gulf and Arabian Sea. About 5,100 U.S. military personnel there.
Karsi-Khanabad Not used by U.S. since September 2005 following U.S.-Uzbek dispute over May 2005 Uzbek
Air Base, crackdown on unrest in Andijon. Once housed about 1,750 U.S. military personnel (900 Air Force,
Uzbekistan 400 Army, and 450 civilian) in supply missions to Afghanistan. Uzbekistan allowed German use of
the base temporarily in March 2008, indicating possible healing of the rift. Could also represent
Uzbek counter to Russian offer to U.S. coalition to allow use of its territory to transport
equipment into Afghanistan.
Cooperation with partner forces is a major issue for the Obama Administration, in part because
the partnership has come under question as Afghanistan strategy has not produced clear or quick
24 Twelve other countries provide forces to both OEF and ISAF.
results. Although the United States is increasingly leading both combat and command, the U.S.
role remains largely under the umbrella of the NATO-led “International Security Assistance
Force” (ISAF)—consisting of all 26 NATO members states plus partner countries. ISAF was
created by the Bonn Agreement and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1386 (December 20, 25
2001), initially limited to Kabul. In October 2003, after Germany agreed to contribute 450
military personnel to expand ISAF into the city of Konduz, ISAF contributors endorsed
expanding its presence to several other cities, contingent on formal U.N. approval—which came
on October 14, 2003 in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1510. In August 2003, NATO took over
command of ISAF—previously the ISAF command rotated among donor forces including Turkey
and Britain. NATO/ISAF’s responsibilities broadened significantly in 2004 with NATO/ISAF’s
assumption of security responsibility for northern and western Afghanistan (Stage 1, Regional
Command North, in 2004 and Stage 2, Regional Command West, in 2005, respectively). The
mission was most recently renewed (until October 13, 2009) by U.N. Security Council Resolution
1833 (September 22, 2008). It reiterated the previous year’s renewal resolution (1776) support for
the Operation Enduring Freedom mission. Tables at the end of this report list contributing forces,
areas of operations, and their Provincial Reconstruction Teams.
The transition process continued on July 31, 2006, with the formal handover of the security
mission in southern Afghanistan to NATO/ISAF control. As part of this “Stage 3,” a
British/Canadian/Dutch-led “Regional Command South” (RC-S) was formed. Britain is the lead
force in Helmand; Canada is lead in Qandahar, and the Netherlands is lead in Uruzgan; the three
now rotate the command of RC-S. “Stage 4,” the assumption of NATO/ISAF command of
peacekeeping in fourteen provinces of eastern Afghanistan (and thus all of Afghanistan), was
completed on October 5, 2006. As part of the completion of the NATO/ISAF takeover of
command, the United States put about half the U.S. troops operating in Afghanistan under
NATO/ISAF in “Regional Command East” (RC-E).
As of now, the partner forces that are bearing the brunt of combat in southern Afghanistan are
Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Australia. The need to line up new pledges
became acute in February 2008, when Canada said it would extend its 2,500 troop deployment
until 2009, but not beyond that, unless other partners contribute 1,000 forces to assist with combat
in the Canadian sector (Qandahar province). Canada insists its mission in Afghanistan will end in
At and in conjunction with the NATO summit in Bucharest in early April 2008, twelve countries
did indicate new pledges, although some are of reconstruction aid rather than troops, and others
were restatements of previous pledges. The following were the major pledges in 2008:
• France has deployed about 1,000 additional forces—a battalion of about 700 plus
200 special forces that formerly were part of OEF. The French forces are
deploying mostly in Kapisa province to block Taliban movements toward Kabul.
Some French forces are going to the southern sector to help train Afghan security
forces there. President Sarkozy won a parliamentary vote of support for the
25 Its mandate was extended until October 13, 2006, by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1623 (September 13, 2005);
and until October 13, 2007, by Resolution 1707 (September 12, 2006).
mission, in late September 2008, following the killing of ten French soldiers in
• Poland added 400 troops to the 1,200 already in Afghanistan. They are alongside
U.S. forces as part of RC-E, operating mainly in Ghazni province.
• Norway has added 200 troops but in the largely passive north, where Norway is
• Denmark has added about 600 forces to the mission in the south.
• Georgia has added 500 forces for Afghanistan.
• Croatia has added 200-300, doubling its previous force.
• The Czech Republic added 120 forces in 2008, although in December 2008 the
Czech parliament did not extend the mandate for its forces to remain in
Afghanistan or Iraq.
• Greece and Romania have sent an unspecified number of additional trainers for
the Afghan security forces.
• New Zealand increase its contingent at the PRT it runs in Bamiyan province.
• Azerbaijan sent an additional 45, more than its previous force there.
• In February 2008, Australia ruled out sending more forces to supplement its
contingent, which operates in combat intense Uruzgan province, but said it would
augment civilian assistance such as training Afghan police and judges and build
new roads, hospitals, and schools.
• As noted above, Britain is increasing its troop commitment in Afghanistan to
about 8,700 in early 2009. Although the forces serve in Britain’s sector of the
south (very high combat Helmand Province), the extra forces are mainly
conducting training for the Afghan security forces.
• Germany has repeatedly turned U.S. requests to send forces to the combat-heavy
south, but in 2008 it increased its authorized troop ceiling for Afghanistan to
4,500, from 3,500, still in the northern sector. (Despite opposition in Germany to
the entire Afghanistan mission, Germany’s parliament voted by a 453-79 vote
margin on October 12, 2007, to maintain German troop levels in Afghanistan.)
• Singapore is sending 20 military personnel to do development-related work in
Uruzgan province. That is in addition to the 20 personnel Singaporean contingent
that has been in Bamiyan. (No Singaporean forces were listed in NATO’s
factsheet of December 1, 2008, the most recent one available.)
Among unfulfilled pledges are 3,200 trainers that are needed for Afghan security forces. It is
likely this requirement will be filled by American forces.
Another key point of contention has been NATO’s chronic equipment shortages—particularly
helicopters, both for transport and attack—for the Afghanistan mission. One idea considered at a
NATO meeting in Scotland on December 13, 2007, was for U.S. or other donors to pay for the
upgrading of helicopters that partner countries might possess but have inadequate resources to
adapt to Afghanistan’s harsh flying conditions. In 2007, to try to compensate for the shortage,
NATO chartered about 20 commercial helicopters for extra routine supply flights to the south,
freeing up Chinooks and Black Hawks for other missions. Some of the extra Polish troops
deployed in 2008 are operating and maintain eight helicopters.
The shortages persist even though several partner nations brought in additional equipment in
2006 in conjunction with the NATO assumption of peacekeeping command. At that time, Apache
attack helicopters and F-16 aircraft were brought in by some contributors. Italy sent “Predator” 26
unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, and six AMX fighter-bomber aircraft. Germany notes
that it provides six Tornado combat aircraft to assist with strikes in combat situations in the south.
NATO/ISAF also coordinates with Afghan security forces and with OEF forces as well, and it
assists the Afghan Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism in the operation of Kabul International
Airport (where Dutch combat aircraft also are located). In October 2008, Hungary added 60
troops to take over security at the airport.
In an effort to repair divisions within the Afghanistan coalition over each country’s respective
domestic considerations, Secretary Gates presented, at a NATO meeting in Scotland on December
13, 2007, a “strategic concept paper” that would help coordinate and guide NATO and other
partner contributions and missions over the coming three to five years. This is an effort to
structure each country’s contribution as appropriate to the politics and resources of that
contributor. The concept paper, now titled the “Strategic Vision,” was endorsed by the NATO
summit in Bucharest, Romania in April 2008.
One of the most thorny issues has been the U.S. effort to persuade other NATO countries to adopt
flexible rules of engagement that allow all contributing forces to perform combat missions,
although perhaps not as aggressively as do U.S. forces. All have agreed that their forces would
come to each others’ defense in times of emergency anywhere in Afghanistan. At the NATO
summit in April 2008, NATO countries pledged to continue to work remove the other so-called
“national caveats” on their troops’ operations that U.S. commanders say limit operational
flexibility. For example, some nations refuse to conduct night-time combat. Others have refused
to carry Afghan personnel on their helicopters. Others do not fight after snowfall. These caveats
were troubling to those NATO countries with forces in heavy combat zones, such as Canada,
which feel they are bearing the brunt of the fighting.
At the same time, the United States has adapted some approaches from its partners. There was
early skepticism of the Dutch approach in Uruzgan, which focuses heavily on building
relationships with tribal leaders and identifying reconstruction priorities, and not on actively
combating Taliban formations. The Netherlands says this approach is key to a long-term
pacification of the south and the United States subsequently altered its strategy in the eastern
sector somewhat to approach that used by the Netherlands. (See CRS Report RL33627, NATO in
Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance, by Vincent Morelli and Paul Gallis.)
U.S. and partner officials have generally praised the effectiveness of “provincial reconstruction
teams” (PRTs)—enclaves of U.S. or partner forces and civilian officials that provide safe havens
26 Kington, Tom. Italy Could Send UAVs, Helos to Afghanistan. Defense News, June 19, 2006.
for international aid workers to help with reconstruction and to extend the writ of the Kabul
government—in accelerating reconstruction and assisting stabilization efforts. The PRTs,
announced in December 2002, perform activities ranging from resolving local disputes to
coordinating local reconstruction projects, although most U.S.-run PRTs and most PRTs in
combat-heavy areas focus mostly on counter-insurgency. (U.S. PRTs in restive regions are “co-
located” with “forward operating bases” of 300-400 U.S. combat troops.) Some aid agencies say 27
they have felt more secure since the PRT program began, fostering reconstruction. Secretary
Gates and U.S. commanders have attributed 2007 successes in stabilizing areas such as Ghazni
and Khost to the PRTs’ ability to intensify reconstruction by coordinating many different security
and civilian activities. In Ghazni, almost all the schools are now open, whereas one year ago
many were closed because of Taliban intimidation. In Khost, according to Secretary Gates on
December 11, 2007, PRT activities focused on road building and construction of district centers
that tie the population to the government.
On the other hand, some relief groups do not want to associate with military forces because doing
so might taint their perceived neutrality. Others argue that the PRTs are delaying the time when
the Afghan government has the skills and resources to secure and develop Afghanistan on its own.
There are 26 PRTs in operation. Virtually all the PRTs, including those run by the United States,
are now under the ISAF mission, but with varying lead nations. The list of PRTs, including lead
country, is shown in. Each PRT operated by the United States is composed of U.S. forces (50-100
U.S. military personnel); Defense Department civil affairs officers; representatives of USAID,
State Department, and other agencies; and Afghan government (Interior Ministry) personnel.
Most PRTs, including those run by partner forces, have personnel to train Afghan security forces.
USAID officers assigned to the PRTs administer PRT reconstruction projects, as shown in the
tables at the report’s end. According to U.S. officials in March 2008, about 250 PRT development
projects have been completed or are ongoing. USAID spending on PRT projects is in the table on
USAID spending in Afghanistan at the end of this paper and in the aid tables by fiscal year.
In August 2005, in preparation for the establishment of Regional Command South, Canada took
over the key U.S.-led PRT in Qandahar. In May 2006, Britain took over the PRT at Lashkar Gah,
capital of Helmand Province. The Netherlands took over the PRT at Tarin Kowt, capital of
Uruzgan Province. Germany (with Turkey and France) took over the PRTs and the leadership role
in the north from Britain and the Netherlands when those countries deployed to the south.
Representing evolution of the PRT concept, Turkey opened a PRT, in Wardak Province, on
November 25, 2006, to focus on providing health care, education, police training, and agricultural
alternatives in that region. In March 2008, the Czech Republic established a PRT in Lowgar
Province. There also has been consideration to turn over the lead in the U.S.-run PRTs to civilians
rather than military personnel, presumably State Department or USAID officials. That was first
attempted in 2006 with the establishment of a civilian-led U.S.-run PRT in the Panjshir Valley.
Capable Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are the means by which the United States and
NATO might wind eventually down their involvement in Afghanistan. U.S. forces (“Combined
27 Kraul, Chris. “U.S. Aid Effort Wins Over Skeptics in Afghanistan.” Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2003.
Security Transition Command-Afghanistan,” CSTC-A, headed as of July 2007 by Gen. Robert
Cone), along with partner countries and contractors, are training the Afghan National Army
(ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP). However, that point is said to be a long way off.
U.S. and allied officers say that the ANA, now about 76,000 trained and assigned (with the total
to be about 98,000 by mid-2009) is becoming a major force in stabilizing the country and a
national symbol. It now has at least some presence in most of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces,
working with the PRTs, and it deployed outside Afghanistan to assist relief efforts for victims of
the October 2005 Pakistan earthquake. In August 2008, the ANA took over security of the Kabul
regional command from Italy. In June 2007, the ANA and ANP led “Operation Maiwand” in
Ghazni province, intended to open schools and deliver humanitarian aid to people throughout the
province. According to the DoD report of June 2008 referenced earlier, the ANA has taken the
lead in 30 significant combat and clearing operations to date, and has demonstrated “increasing
competence, effectiveness, and professionalism.” The ANA is now leading 75% of the combat
operations in the eastern sector. The commando forces of the ANA, trained by U.S. Special
Operations Forces, are considered well-trained and are taking the lead in some operations against
high value targets, particularly against HIG elements in Nuristan province. The United States has
built four ANA bases (Herat, Gardez, Qandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif).
Then NATO/ISAF commander General McNeill said in April 2008 that it would not be until 2011
that ANA (and ANP) forces would be capable enough to allow for a drawdown of coalition 28
forces. This assessment was corroborated by a June 2008 DoD report on the ANSF. Further
negative assessments came in a GAO study released June 2008 that, of 105 ANA units, only two 29
are assessed by DoD as being fully capable of conducting their primary missions. This report
also cited U.S. officers as observing continuing personnel problems (desertion, absentee), ill
discipline, and drug abuse, although some concerns have been addressed. Some accounts say that
a typical ANA unit is only at about 50% of its authorized strength at any given time. The GAO
study said that there are significant shortages in about 40% of equipment items, although CSTC-
A envisions that all ANA brigades are equipped to 85% of requirements as of the end of 2008.
Few soldiers have helmets, many have no armored vehicles or armor.. The tables below discuss
major equipment donations, as well as U.S. equipment being delivered in mid-2008.
The emerging U.S. plan to increase its focus on the Afghan theater includes substantial expansion
of the ANA. The plan, agreed jointly by the United States and Afghanistan in September 2008,
provides for expanding its size to 134,000 within five years. The funds for the expansion—about
$20 billion in that time frame—will come from the United States, possibly defrayed by partner
contributions. Observers say the United States has made a major funding request from Japan for
some of that cost.
ANA battalions, or “Kandaks,” are the main unit of the Afghan force. They are assisted by
embedded U.S. trainers (about 10-20 per battalion). The Kandaks are stiffened by the presence of
U.S. and partner embeds, called “Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams” (OMLTs). Each OMLT
has about 12-19 personnel, and U.S. commanders say that the ANA will continue to need embeds
28 Required by FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act, Section 1231. (PL. 110-181).
29 Government Accountability Office. Further Congressional Action May Be Needed to Ensure Completion of a
Detailed Plan to Develop and Sustain Capable Afghan National Security Forces. GAO-08-661. June 2008.
for the short term, because embeds give the units confidence they will be resupplied, reinforced,
and evacuated in the event of wounding. Coalition officers also are conducting heavy weapons
training for a heavy brigade as part of the “Kabul Corps,” based in Pol-e-Charki, east of Kabul.
Among the partner countries contributing OMLTs (all or in part) are Canada, Croatia, Czech
Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,
Britain, and the United States.
At the time the United States first began establishing the ANA, Northern Alliance figures
reportedly weighted recruitment for the national army toward its Tajik ethnic base. Many
Pashtuns, in reaction, refused recruitment or left the ANA program. U.S. officials in Afghanistan
say this problem has been at least partly alleviated with better pay and more close involvement by
U.S. forces, and that the force is ethnically integrated in each unit. The naming of a Pashtun,
Abdul Rahim Wardak, as Defense Minister in December 2004 also reduced desertions among
Pashtuns (he remains in that position). The chief of staff is Gen. Bismillah Khan, a Tajik who was
a Northern Alliance commander. U.S. officers in Afghanistan add that some recruits take long
trips to their home towns to remit funds to their families, and often then return to the ANA after a
long absence. Others, according to U.S. observers, often refuse to serve far from their home
towns. The FY2005 foreign aid appropriation (P.L. 108-447) required that ANA recruits be vetted
for terrorism, human rights violations, and drug trafficking.
Equipment, maintenance, and logistical difficulties continue to plague the ANA. The Afghan Air
Force, a carryover from the Afghan Air Force that existed prior to the Soviet invasion, is
expanding gradually after its equipment was virtually eliminated in the 2001-2002 U.S. combat
against the Taliban regime. It now has about 400 pilots, as well as 22 helicopters and cargo
aircraft. Its goal is to have 61 aircraft by 2011, but Defense Minister Wardak said in September
oriented Air Force. Gen. McKiernan, in statements in November 2008, credited the Afghan Air
Force with an ability to make ANA units nearly self-sufficient in airlift.
In May 2008, the Afghan Air Force received an additional 25 surplus helicopters from the Czech
Republic and the UAE, bought and refurbished with the help of U.S. funds. Afghan pilots are
based at Bagram air base. Afghanistan is seeking the return of 26 aircraft, including some MiG-2s
that were flown to safety in Pakistan and Uzbekistan during the past conflicts in Afghanistan.
U.S. plans do not include supply of fixed-wing combat aircraft such as F-16s, which Afghanistan
wants, according to U.S. military officials.
Table 3. Recent and Pending Foreign Equipment
Overview Since 2002, 46 donor nations have contributed equipment worth $822 million (a/o July 2008).
Another 187 donations are pending, worth almost $200 million. Major items include Leopard 1 tanks,
MI-17 and MI-35 helicopters, M2 machine guns, and 81 mm mortars.
United Major $2 billion value in arms delivered between May 2006-end of 2007. Includes several hundred
States Humvees, 800 other various armored vehicles. Also includes light weapons. Authorized total
drawdown ceiling (un-reimbursed by appropriations) is $550 million; H.R. 2446-AFSA
reauthorization—would increase ceiling to $300 million/year. Afghanistan is eligible to receive grant
U.S. Excess Defense Articles (EDA) under Section 516 of the Foreign Assistance Act.
Hungary 20,500 assault rifles
Egypt 17,000 small arms
Russia 4 helicopters and other equipment, part of over $100 million military aid to Afghanistan thus far
Turkey 24—155 mm Howitzers
Bulgaria 50 mortars, 500 binoculars
Czech 12 helicopters and 20,000 machine guns
Estonia 4,000 machine guns plus ammunition
Greece 300 machine guns
Latvia 337 rocket-propelled grenades, 8 mortars, 13,000 arms
Lithuania 3.7 million ammunition rounds
Montenegro 1,600 machine guns
Poland 110 armored personnel carriers, 4 million ammo rounds
Switzerland 3 fire trucks
Turkey 2,200 rounds of 155 mm ammo
Croatia 1,000 machine guns plus ammo
UAE 10 Mi-17 helicopters
U.S. and Afghan officials believe that building up a credible and capable national police force is
at least as important to combating the Taliban insurgency as building the ANA. There is a
widespread consensus that this effort lags that of the ANA by about 18 months, although U.S.
commanders say that it is increasingly successful in repelling Taliban assaults on villages and that
the ANP (now numbering about 80,000 assigned) is experiencing fewer casualties from attacks.
However, according to the June 2008 GAO study referenced above, none of the ANP units is
rated as fully capable.
To try to advance the effort, the U.S. military is conducting reforms to take ANP out of the
bureaucracy and onto the streets and it is trying to bring ANP pay on par with the ANA. It has
also launched a program called “focused district development” to concentrate resources on
developing individual police forces in districts, which is the basic geographic area of ANP
activity. (There are about ten “districts” in each of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.) In this program, a
district force is taken out and retrained, its duties temporarily performed by more highly trained
police, and then reinserted after the training is complete. As of November 2008, 42 districts have
undergone this process, which is expected to take five years to complete for the remainder of the
country. A similar process is being applied to Afghanistan’s border forces.
The U.S. police training effort was first led by State Department/INL, but the Defense
Department took over the lead in police training in April 2005. Much of the training is still
conducted through contracts with DynCorp. In addition to the U.S. effort, which includes 600
civilian U.S. police trainers (mostly still Dyncorp contractors) in addition to the U.S. military
personnel (see table on security indicators), Germany (originally the lead government in Afghan
police training) is providing 41 trainers. The European Union has taken over from Germany as
lead and is providing a 190-member “EUPOL” training effort, and 60 other experts to help train
To address equipment shortages, in 2007 CSTC-A provided about 8,000 new vehicles and
thousands of new weapons of all types. A report by the Inspectors General of the State and
Defense Department, circulated to Congress in December 2006, found that most ANP units have 30
less than 50% of their authorized equipment, among its significant criticisms.
Many experts believe that comprehensive police and justice sector reform is vital to Afghan
governance. Some of the criticisms and allegations of corruption at all levels of the Afghan
bureaucracy have been discussed throughout this paper. Police training now includes instruction
in human rights principles and democratic policing concepts, and the State Department human
rights report on Afghanistan, referenced above, says the government and outside observers are
increasingly monitoring the police force to prevent abuses. However, some governments
criticized Karzai for setting back police reform in June 2006 when he approved a new list of
senior police commanders that included 11 (out of 86 total) who had failed merit exams. His
approval of the 11 were reportedly to satisfy faction leaders and went against the
recommendations of a police reform committee. The ANP work in the communities they come
from, often embroiling them in local factional or ethnic disputes.
The State Department (INL) has placed 30 U.S. advisors in the Interior Ministry to help it
develop the national police force and counter-narcotics capabilities. U.S. trainers are also building
Border Police and Highway Patrol forces.
U.S. justice sector programs generally focus on building capacity of the judicial system, including
police training and court construction; many of these programs are conducted in partnership with
Italy, which is the “lead” coalition country on judicial reform. The United States has trained over
950 judges, lawyers, and prosecutors, according to President Bush on February 15, 2007, and
built 40 judicial facilities. USAID also trains court administrators for the Ministry of Justice, the
office of the Attorney General, and the Supreme Court. The United States and its partners have, to
30 Inspectors General, U.S. Department of State and of Defense. Interagency Assessment of Afghanistan Police
Training and Readiness. November 2006. Department of State report No. ISP-IQ0-07-07.
date, generally refrained from interfering in traditional mechanisms such as village jirgas
convened to dispense justice.
U.S. funds are used to cover ANA salaries. Recent appropriations for the ANA and ANP are
contained in the tables at the end of this paper. In addition to the train and equip funds provided
by DOD, the U.S. military in Afghanistan has additional funds to spend on reconstruction projects
that build goodwill and presumably reduce the threat to use forces. These are Commanders
Emergency Response Program funds, or CERP. Some CERP funds are being used for the
Community Guard program discussed earlier. The U.S. military spent about $206 million in
CERP in FY2007 and about $269 million in FY2008. During 2002-2006, over 40 non-U.S.
donors provided about $425 million to train and equip the ANA. As noted in the table, the
security forces funding has shifted to DOD funds instead of assistance funds controlled by the
Table 4. Major Security-Related Indicators
Force Current Level
Total Foreign Forces in About 65,000, of which: 51,350 are NATO/ISAF. (12,000 ISAF in 2005; and 6,000 in
Afghanistan 2003.) U.S. forces: 36,000 total, of which 20,000 in NATO/ISAF and 14,000 U.S. (plus
2,000 partner forces) in OEF (DoD figures) . (U.S. total was: 25,000 in 2005; 16,000 in
2003; 5,000 in 2002). U.S. expected to rise further in 2009 by at least 20,000. U.S. forces
deployed at 88 bases in Afghanistan, and include 1 air wing (40 aircraft) and 1 combat
aviation brigade (100 aircraft).
U.S. Casualties in 567 killed, of which 413 by hostile action. Additional 66 U.S. deaths in other OEF
Afghanistan theaters, including the Philippines and parts of Africa (OEF-Trans Sahara). About 400
partner forces killed. 155 U.S. killed in 2008-highest yet. 150 U.S. killed from October
2001-January 2003. About 20/month killed since July 2008.
NATO Sectors (Regional
Commands-South, east, RC-S- 18,100 (Canada, UK, Netherlands rotate lead; 9,000 in Helmand); RC-E-19,660
north, west, and (U.S. lead); RC-N-4,690; RC-W-2,990 (Italy lead) RC-Kabul-5,850 ( France, Afghan lead).
Afghan National Army 76,000 assigned, including civilian support. There are 49 combat battalions. 98,000 is
(ANA) expected by end of 2009. Goal raised to 134,000 by as early as 2011. About 2,000
trained per month. 4,000 are commando forces, trained by U.S. Special Forces. ANA
private paid about $150 per month; generals receive about $750 per month. ANA being
outfitted with U.S. M16 rifles and 4,000 up-armored Humvees.
Afghan National Police 80,000 assigned, close to authorized strength: 82,000. 11,000 are border police/18,000
(ANP) authorized; 3,800+ counter-narcotics police; 5,300 civil order police. 700 are female.
Salaries raised to $150 per month in 2008 from $70 to counter corruption.
U.S. and Partner Trainers About 9,000 total: 2,000 U.S. military trainers as Embedded Training Troops and Police
Mentoring Teams. 3,000 civilian trainers. 800 coalition trainers, including EUPOL for
ANP (European Union contingent of 190 trainers, organized as OMLTs), and 41 German
trainers of senior ANP. U.S. commanders requesting 3,200 more U.S. trainers.
Legally Armed Fighters 63,380; all of the pool identified for the program
disarmed by DDR
Number of Taliban 10,000-15,000 (U.S. military estimates). Plus about 1,000 Haqqani faction and 1,000 HIG.
fighters 7,000 killed 2007-8.
Force Current Level
Armed Groups disbanded 161 illegal groups (five or more fighters) disbanded. Goal is to disband 1,800 groups, of
by DIAG which several hundred groups are “significant.” 5,700 weapons confiscated, 1.050
arrested. About 5,000 Taliban reconciled since May 2005.
Weapons Collected by 57,630 medium and light; 12,250 heavy.
Attacks per day (average) 1,000 per month in 2008; 800 per month in 2007 and 2006; 400 in 2005. Attacks up 40%
in eastern sector compared to 2007. 2,000 roadside bombs in 2008, highest yet.
Number of Suicide 21 in 2005; 123 in 2006; 160 in 2007.
Afghan Casualties About 5,500 in 2008; 6,000 in 2007 (including Taliban; all types of violence).
Although most of Afghanistan’s neighbors believe that the fall of the Taliban has stabilized the
region, some experts believe that some neighboring governments are attempting to manipulate
Afghanistan’s factions to their advantage, even though six of Afghanistan’s neighbors signed a
non-interference pledge (Kabul Declaration) on December 23, 2002. The Washington Post
reported on November 11, 2008, that the incoming Obama Administration might formulate an
approach toward Afghanistan that focuses on ensuring that Afghanistan’s neighbors do not allow
militants to flow into Afghanistan, and to securing existing or new supply lines. In November
2005, Afghanistan joined the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and
Afghanistan has observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is discussed
below. (Karzai attended the SCO summit in Tajikistan on August 30, 2008.)
As Pakistan’s government has changed composition over the past year, U.S. commanders have
focused on the degree to which Pakistan is helping U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. This has
caused occasional recriminations between the United States and Pakistan, and even some
shooting incidents between Pakistani forces and U.S. forces patrolling the Afghan border area.
Some experts see Pakistani and Afghan Taliban militants increasingly merging and pooling their
efforts against governments in both countries, and Al Qaeda is reportedly actively facilitating the
Afghanistan insurgency. The volatility in relations contrasts with that during 2001-2006, when the
Bush Administration praised then President Pervez Musharraf for Pakistani accomplishments
against Al Qaeda, including the arrest of over 700 Al Qaeda figures, some of them senior, since 32
the September 11 attacks. After the attacks, Pakistan provided the United States with access to
31 For extensive analysis of U.S. policy toward Pakistan, and U.S. assistance to Pakistan in conjunction with its
activities against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, see CRS Report RL33498, Pakistan-U.S. Relations, by K. Alan Kronstadt.
32 Among those captured by Pakistan are top bin Laden aide Abu Zubaydah (captured April 2002); alleged September
11 plotter Ramzi bin Al Shibh (September 11, 2002); top Al Qaeda planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (March 2003);
and a top planner, Abu Faraj al-Libbi (May 2005).
Pakistani airspace, some ports, and some airfields for OEF. Others say Musharraf acted against Al
Qaeda only when it threatened him directly; for example, after the December 2003 assassination
attempts against him by that organization. Musharraf announced his resignation and the new
governing coalition fractured in August 2008, leaving the newly dominant party of the late
Pakistani secular leader Benazir Bhutto—now in the hands of her widower, President Asif Ali
Zardari—with substantial discretion over Pakistan’s policy.
Afghan leaders still resent Pakistan as the most public defender of the Taliban movement when it
was in power and they suspect it wants to have the option to restore a Taliban-like regime.
(Pakistan was one of only three countries to formally recognize it as the legitimate government:
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the others.) Pakistan viewed the Taliban as
providing Pakistan strategic depth against rival India, and it remains wary that any Afghan
government might fall under the influence of India, which Pakistan says is using its diplomatic
facilities in Afghanistan to train and recruit anti-Pakistan insurgents, and is using its
reconstruction funds to build influence there. Pakistan ended its public support for the Taliban
after the September 11, 2001, attacks, but Pakistan-Afghanistan relations began deteriorating after
the March 2006 Afghan accusation that Pakistan was allowing Taliban remnants, including
Mullah Umar, to operating there. In January 2007, Karzai strongly criticized a Pakistani plan to
mine and fence their common border in an effort to prevent infiltration of militants to
Afghanistan, saying the move would separate tribes and families that straddle the border.
The U.S. shift toward a more critical position increased following a New York Times report
(February 19, 2007) that Al Qaeda had re-established some small Al Qaeda terrorist training
camps in Pakistan, near the Afghan border. This possibly was an outgrowth of a September 5,
2006, agreement between Pakistan and tribal elders in this region to exchange an end to Pakistani
military incursions into the tribal areas for a promise by the tribal elders to expel militants from
the border area. In July 2007, U.S. counter-terrorism officials publicly deemed the agreement a
failure. Despite this U.S. view, in April 2008, the new government dominated by Bhutto’s party,
prevailed in February 2008 parliamentary elections, negotiated a similar “understanding” with
members of the Mehsud tribe, among which is militant leader Baitullah Mehsud. Mehsud is
believed responsible for harboring and assisting Afghan Taliban, including sending his own
supporters in to Afghanistan, and for growing militant acts inside Pakistan itself, possibly
including the December 27, 2007, killing of Bhutto. U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have
blamed the negotiations for an increase in militant infiltration across the border. U.S. officials, in
July 2008, confronted Pakistani officials with evidence that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence 33
agency (ISI) is actively helping Afghanistan militants, particularly the Haqqani faction. Afghan
officials have said they have evidence that ISI agents were involved in the July 7, 2008, suicide
bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul.
In late 2008, U.S. officials have indicated that they are seeing greater Pakistani cooperation. In
February 2008, Pakistan stopped attending meetings of the Tripartite Commission” under which
NATO, Afghan, and Pakistani military leaders meet regularly on both sides of the border.
Meetings resumed in June 2008, and the fourth since then is planned in December 2008.
According to U.S. Army chief of staff Gen. George Casey in November 2008, U.S.-Pakistani
military cooperation is broadening as U.S. and Pakistani commanders have been meeting once a
week. In April 2008, in an extension of the Tripartite Commission’s work, the three agreed to set
up five “border coordination centers”—which will include networks of radar nodes to give liaison
33 Mazzetti, Mark and Eric Schmitt. “CIA Outlines Pakistan Links With Militants.” New York Times, July 30, 2008.
officers a common view of the border area. These centers build on an agreement in May 2007 to
share intelligence on extremists’ movements. Only one has been established to date—near the
Torkham Gate at the Khyber Pass. Also, U.S. commanders have praised October 2008 Pakistani
military moves against militant enclaves in the tribal areas, and U.S. and Pakistani forces are
jointly waging “Operation Lionheart”against militants on both sides of the border, north of the
In addition, Afghanistan-Pakistan relations are improving since the Musharraf era ended in
September 2008. Karzai attended the September 9, 2008, inauguration of President Asif Ali
Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto. The “peace jirga” process—a series of meetings of
notables on each side of the border, which was agreed at a September 28, 2006, dinner hosted by
President Bush for Karzai and Musharraf, has resumed. The first jirga, in which 700 Pakistani 34
and Afghan tribal elders participated, was held in Kabul August 9-10, 2007. Another was held in
the improving climate of Afghanistan-Pakistan relations during October 27-28, 2008; the Afghan
side was headed by former Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah. It resulted in a declaration to endorse
efforts to try to engage militants in both Afghanistan and Pakistan to bring them into the political
process and abandon violence. Zardari and Karzai held bilateral meetings in Turkey on December
6, 2008, and, in the clearest sign of closer ties, Zardari visited Kabul and met with Karzai on
January 9, 2009, where the two signed a joint declaration against terrorism that affects both
U.S. officials are increasingly employing new tactics to combat militant concentrations in
Pakistan without directly violating Pakistan’s limitations on the U.S. ability to operate “on the
ground” in Pakistan. U.S. officials are also attempting to formulate a strategy to protect
U.S./NATO supply lines through Pakistan, increasingly the focus of attacks on the Pakistani side
of the border, as well as to secure new routes. Pakistani political leaders across the spectrum
publicly oppose any presence of U.S. combat forces in Pakistan, and a reported Defense
Department plan to send small numbers of U.S. troops into the border areas was said to be “on
hold” because of potential backlash from Pakistan. This purported U.S. plan was said to be a
focus of discussions between Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen and Pakistani Chief of Staff Ashfaq
Kayani aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lincoln on August 26, 2008, although the results of the 36
discussions are not publicly known. On September 3, 2008, one week after the meeting, as a
possible indication that at least some aspects of the U.S. plan is going forward, U.S. helicopter
borne force reportedly crossed the border to raid a suspected militant encampment, drawing
criticism from Pakistan. However, there still does not appear to be U.S. consideration of longer
term “boots on the ground” in Pakistan. In January 2008, Secretary of Defense Gates said that any
U.S. troops potentially deployed to Pakistan would most likely be assigned solely to train
Pakistani border forces, such as the Frontier Corps.
Since well before the September 3 incursion, U.S. military forces have been directing increased 37
U.S. firepower against militants in Pakistan. Press reports add that visits to Pakistan by top U.S.
34 Straziuso, Jason. Musharraf Pulls Out of Peace Council. Associated Press, August 8, 2007.
35 CRS Report RL34763, Islamist Militancy in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Region and U.S. Policy, by K. Alan
Kronstadt and Kenneth Katzman
36 Jelinek, Pauline. “U.S., Pakistan, In Secret, Discuss Rise in Violence.” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 29, 2008.
37 Tyson, Ann Scott. “Pakistan Strife Threatens Anti-Insurgent Plan.” Washington Post, November 9, 2007.
intelligence officials in January 2008 resulted in agreement for more U.S. Predator unmanned
aerial vehicle flights over the border regions. Since October 2008, there has been one Predator
strike on militant targets in Pakistan almost every day, each time incurring Pakistani official
protestations. In addition, U.S. forces in Afghanistan now acknowledge that they shell purported
Taliban positions on the Pakistani side of the border, and do some “hot pursuit” a few kilometers
over the border into Pakistan. One air strike in early June 2008 reportedly killed by accident a
number of Pakistani border forces, incurring intense Pakistani criticism. U.S. commanders said in
June 2008 that NATO and U.S. forces had beefed up their numbers on the border to deal with the
spike in attacks caused by Pakistan’s relaxation of efforts to prevent militant infiltration.
Suggesting that it can act against the Taliban when it intends to, on August 15, 2006, Pakistan
announced the arrest of 29 Taliban fighters in a hospital in the Pakistani city of Quetta. On March
1, 2007, Pakistani officials confirmed they had arrested Mullah Ubaydallah Akhund, a top aide to
Mullah Umar and who had served as defense minister in the Taliban regime, in Quetta. He was
later reported released.
Pakistan wants the government of Afghanistan to pledge to abide by the “Durand Line,” a border
agreement reached between Britain (signed by Sir Henry Mortimer Durand) and then Afghan
leader Amir Abdul Rahman Khan in 1893, separating Afghanistan from what was then British-
controlled India (later Pakistan after the 1947 partition). It is recognized by the United Nations,
but Afghanistan continues to indicate that the border was drawn unfairly to separate Pashtun
tribes and should be re-negotiated. As of October 2002, about 1.75 million Afghan refugees have
returned from Pakistan since the Taliban fell, but as many as 3 million might still remain in
Pakistan, and Pakistan says it plans to expel them back into Afghanistan in the near future.
Iran perceives its key national interests in Afghanistan as exerting its traditional influence over
western Afghanistan, which Iran borders and was once part of the Persian empire, and to protect
Afghanistan’s Shiite minority. Iran’s assistance to Afghanistan has totaled about $1.164 billion
since the fall of the Taliban, mainly to build roads and schools and provide electricity and shops
to Afghan cities and villages near the Iranian border. This makes Iran among the top financial
donors to Afghanistan.
After the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, President Bush warned Iran against meddling in
Afghanistan. Partly in response to the U.S. criticism, in February 2002 Iran expelled Karzai-
opponent Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, but it did not arrest him. Iran did not oppose Karzai’s firing of
Iran ally Ismail Khan as Herat governor in September 2004, although Iran has opposed the 38
subsequent U.S. use of the Shindand air base. Iran is said to be helping Afghan law enforcement
with anti-narcotics along their border. Karzai, who has visited Iran on several occasions says that
Iran is an important neighbor of Afghanistan. During his visit to Washington, DC, in August
2007, some differences between Afghanistan and the United States became apparent; Karzai
publicly called Iran part of a “solution” for Afghanistan, while President Bush called Iran a “de-
stabilizing force” there. Still, Karzai received Ahmadinejad in Kabul in mid-August 2007. The
incoming Obama Administration is believed more open to talks with Iran on a broad range of
issues, including its activities in Afghanistan.
38 Rashid, Ahmed. “Afghan Neighbors Show Signs of Aiding in Nation’s Stability.” Wall Street Journal, October 18,
The U.S.-Afghan differences over Iran’s role represent a departure from the past five years, when
Iran’s influence with political leaders in Afghanistan appeared to wane, and U.S. criticism of
Iran’s role in Afghanistan was muted. The State Department report on international terrorism,
released April 30, 2008, said Iran continued during 2007 to ship arms to Taliban fighters in
Afghanistan, including mortars, 107mm rockets, and possibly man-portable air defense systems
(MANPADS). On April 17, 2007, U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan captured a shipment of
Iranian weapons that purportedly was bound for Taliban fighters. On June 6, 2007, NATO officers
said they caught Iran “red-handed” shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives, and advanced roadside
bombs (“explosively-forced projectiles, EFPs, such as those found in Iraq) to Taliban fighters in
Afghanistan. Another such shipment was intercepted in western Afghanistan on September 6,
2007. Gen. McNeill said the convoy was sent with the knowledge of “at least the Iranian
military.” Because such shipments would appear to conflict with Iran’s support for Karzai and for
non-Pashtun factions in Afghanistan, U.S. military officers did not attribute the shipments to a
deliberate Iranian government decision to arm the Taliban. However, some U.S. officials say the
shipments are large enough that the Iranian government would have to have known about them.
In attempting to explain the shipments, some experts believe Iran’s policy might be shifting
somewhat to gain leverage against the United States in Afghanistan (and on other issues) by
causing U.S. combat deaths.
There is little dispute that Iran’s relations with Afghanistan are much improved from the time of
the Taliban, which Iran saw as a threat to its interests in Afghanistan, especially after Taliban
forces captured Herat (the western province that borders Iran) in September 1995. Iran
subsequently drew even closer to the Northern Alliance than previously, providing its groups with 39
fuel, funds, and ammunition. In September 1998, Iranian and Taliban forces nearly came into
direct conflict when Iran discovered that nine of its diplomats were killed in the course of the
Taliban’s offensive in northern Afghanistan. Iran massed forces at the border and threatened
military action, but the crisis cooled without a major clash, possibly out of fear that Pakistan
would intervene on behalf of the Taliban. Iran offered search and rescue assistance in Afghanistan
during the U.S.-led war to topple the Taliban, and it also allowed U.S. humanitarian aid to the
Afghan people to transit Iran. About 300,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Iran since the
Taliban fell, but about 1.2 million remain, mostly integrated into Iranian society, and a crisis
erupted in May 2007 when Iran expelled about 50,000 into Afghanistan.
The interests and activities of India in Afghanistan are almost the exact reverse of those of
Pakistan. India’s goal is to deny Pakistan “strategic depth” in Afghanistan, and India supported
the Northern Alliance against the Taliban in the mid-1990s. A possible reflection of these ties is
that Tajikistan allows India to use one of its air bases; Tajikistan supports the mostly Tajik
Northern Alliance. India saw the Taliban’s hosting of Al Qaeda as a major threat to India itself
because of Al Qaeda’s association with radical Islamic organizations in Pakistan dedicated to
ending Indian control of parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Some of these groups have committed
major acts of terrorism in India. For its part, Pakistan accuses India of using its nine consulates in
Afghanistan to spread Indian influence. The growing Indian financial and political influence
might have been a cause of the July 2, 2008, attack on India’s embassy, presumably by pro-
39 Steele, Jonathon, “America Includes Iran in Talks on Ending War in Afghanistan.” Washington Times, December 15,
Pakistan elements that want to limit India’s influence. The attack has triggered more debate in
India about whether it should deploy more security forces in Afghanistan to protect its
construction workers, diplomats, and installations. India reportedly decided in August 2008 to
improve security for its officials and workers in Afghanistan, but not to send actual troops there,
either as protection forces or as part of the NATO-led coalition.
India has funded Afghanistan projects worth about $1.2 billion, making it the fifth largest single
country donor. India, along with the Asian Development Bank, is financing a $300 million
project, mentioned above, to bring electricity from Central Asia to Afghanistan. It has also
renovated the well known Habibia High School in Kabul and committed to a $25 million
renovation of Darulaman Palace as the permanent house for Afghanistan’s parliament. Numerous
other India-financed reconstruction projects are under way throughout Afghanistan, including a
road to the Iranian border in remote Nimruz province. India is also helping the IDLG with its
efforts to build local governance organizations.
Some neighboring and nearby states take an active interest not only in Afghan stability, but in the
U.S. military posture that supports OEF.
Russia provides some humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, although it keeps a low profile in
Afghanistan because it still feels humiliated by its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and
senses Afghan resentment of the Soviet occupation. In an effort to try to cooperate more with
NATO at least in Afghanistan, in conjunction with the April 2008 NATO summit, Russia agreed
to allow NATO to ship non-lethal supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan by land over Russian
territory. However, that pledge was put into doubt following the August 2008 crisis over Georgia,
an outcome of which has been suspension of Russian military cooperation with NATO; Russia
says this land route cooperation constitutes military coordination covered under that suspension
announcement. Still, U.S. officials are said to be trying to revive the route possibility amid
increasingly effective attacks on U.S. supply lines through Pakistan.
During the 1990s, Russia supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban with some military
equipment and technical assistance in order to blunt Islamic militancy emanating from 40
Afghanistan. Although Russia supported the U.S. effort against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in
Afghanistan out of fear of Islamic (mainly Chechen) radicals, Russia continues to seek to reduce
the U.S. military presence in Central Asia. Russian fears of Islamic activism emanating from
Afghanistan may have ebbed since 2002 when Russia killed a Chechen of Arab origin known as
“Hattab” (full name is Ibn al-Khattab), who led a militant pro-Al Qaeda Chechen faction. The
Taliban government was the only one in the world to recognize Chechnya’s independence, and
some Chechen fighters fighting alongside Taliban/Al Qaeda forces have been captured or killed.
40 Risen, James. “Russians Are Back in Afghanistan, Aiding Rebels.” New York Times, July 27, 1998.
These states are becoming increasingly crucial to U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan,
Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan could become pivotal actors in U.S. efforts to secure alternate
supply routes into Afghanistan. During Taliban rule, Russian and Central Asian leaders grew
increasingly alarmed that radical Islamic movements were receiving safe haven in Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan, in particular, has long asserted that the group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
(IMU), allegedly responsible for four simultaneous February 1999 bombings in Tashkent that 41
nearly killed President Islam Karimov, is linked to Al Qaeda. One of its leaders, Juma
Namangani, reportedly was killed while commanding Taliban/Al Qaeda forces in Konduz in
November 2001. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do not directly border Afghanistan, but IMU
guerrillas transited Kyrgyzstan during incursions into Uzbekistan in the late 1990s.
During Taliban rule, Uzbekistan supported Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostam, who was part of
that Alliance. It allowed use of Karshi-Khanabad air base by OEF forces from October 2001 until
a rift emerged in May 2005 over Uzbekistan’s crackdown against riots in Andijon, and U.S.-
Uzbek relations remained largely frozen. Uzbekistan’s March 2008 agreement with Germany for
it to use Karshi-Khanabad air base temporarily, for the first time since the rift in U.S.-Uzbek
relations developed in 2005, suggests that U.S.-Uzbek cooperation on Afghanistan and other
issues might be rebuilt. As a follow-up to this, Uzbekistan at the April 2008 NATO summit in
Bucharest, proposed to revive the “6 + 2” process of neighbors of Afghanistan to help its stability,
but Karzai reportedly opposes this idea as unwanted Central Asian interference in its affairs.
In 1996, several of the Central Asian states banded together with Russia and China into a regional
grouping called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to discuss the Taliban threat. It includes
China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Reflecting Russian and
Chinese efforts to limit U.S. influence in the region, the group has issued statements, most
recently in August 2007, that security should be handled by the countries in the Central Asia
region. Despite the Shanghai Cooperation Organization statements, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and
Kyrgyzstan are all, for now, holding to their pledges of facility support to OEF. (Tajikistan allows
access primarily to French combat aircraft, and Kazakhstan allows use of facilities in case of
Of the Central Asian states that border Afghanistan, only Turkmenistan chose to seek close
relations with the Taliban leadership when it was in power, possibly viewing engagement as a
more effective means of preventing spillover of radical Islamic activity from Afghanistan. It saw
Taliban control as facilitating construction of a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through
Afghanistan (see above). The September 11 events stoked Turkmenistan’s fears of the Taliban and
its Al Qaeda guests and the country publicly supported the U.S.-led war. No U.S. forces have
been based in Turkmenistan.
A major organizer of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China has a small border with a
sliver of Afghanistan known as the “Wakhan corridor” (see Figure A-1). China had become
41 The IMU was named a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in September 2000.
42 For more information, see CRS Report RL33001, U.S.-China Counterterrorism Cooperation: Issues for U.S. Policy,
by Shirley A. Kan.
increasingly concerned about the potential for Al Qaeda to promote Islamic fundamentalism
among Muslims in China. In December 2000, sensing China’s increasing concern about Taliban
policies, a Chinese official delegation met with Mullah Umar. China did not enthusiastically
support U.S. military action against the Taliban, possibly because China was wary of a U.S.
military buildup nearby. In addition, China has been allied to Pakistan in part to pressure India, a
rival of China. Still, Chinese delegations are visiting Afghanistan to assess the potential for 43
investments in such sectors as mining and energy, and a deal was signed in November 2007 as
discussed above (China Metallurgical Group).
During the Soviet occupation, Saudi Arabia channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to the
Afghan resistance, primarily the Hikmatyar and Sayyaf factions. Saudi Arabia, a majority of
whose citizens practice the strict Wahhabi brand of Islam also practiced by the Taliban, was one
of three countries to formally recognize the Taliban government. The Taliban initially served
Saudi Arabia as a potential counter to Iran, but Iranian-Saudi relations improved after 1997 and
balancing Iranian power ebbed as a factor in Saudi policy toward Afghanistan. Drawing on its
reputed intelligence ties to Afghanistan during that era, Saudi Arabia worked with Taliban leaders
to persuade them to suppress anti-Saudi activities by Al Qaeda. Some press reports indicate that,
in late 1998, Saudi and Taliban leaders discussed, but did not agree on, a plan for a panel of Saudi
and Afghan Islamic scholars to decide bin Laden’s fate.
According to U.S. officials, Saudi Arabia cooperated extensively, if not publicly, with OEF. It
broke diplomatic relations with the Taliban in late September 2001 and quietly permitted the
United States to use a Saudi base for command of U.S. air operations over Afghanistan, but it did
not permit U.S. airstrikes from it. As noted above, it has hosted talks between the Karzai
government and moderate Taliban leaders to pursue potential reconciliation.
The United Arab Emirates, the third country that recognized the Taliban regime, is emerging as
another major donor to Afghanistan. Its small troop contribution was discussed under OEF,
above. At the donors conference for Afghanistan in June 2008, UAE pledged an additional $250
million for Afghan development, double the $118 million pledged by Saudi Arabia. That brought
the UAE contribution to Afghanistan to over $400 million since the fall of the Taliban. Projects
funded include housing in Qandahar, roads in Kabul, a hospital in Zabol province, and a
university in Khost. There are several daily flights between Kabul and Dubai emirate.
Many experts believe that financial assistance and accelerating reconstruction would do more to
improve the security situation—and to eliminate narcotics trafficking—than intensified anti-
Taliban combat. Afghanistan’s economy and society are still fragile after decades of warfare that
left about 2 million dead, 700,000 widows and orphans, and about 1 million Afghan children who
were born and raised in refugee camps outside Afghanistan. More than 3.5 million Afghan
43 CRS Conversations with Chinese officials in Beijing. August 2007.
refugees have since returned, although a comparable number remain outside Afghanistan. The
U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) supervises Afghan repatriation and Afghan
refugee camps in Pakistan.
Still heavily dependent on donors, Karzai has sought to reassure the international donor
community by establishing a transparent budget and planning process. Some in Congress want to
increase independent oversight of U.S. aid to Afghanistan; the conference report on the FY2008
defense authorization bill (P.L. 110-181) established a “special inspector general” for Afghanistan
reconstruction, (SIGAR) modeled on a similar outside auditor for Iraq (“Special Inspector
General for Iraq Reconstruction,” SIGIR). The law also authorized $20 million for that purpose,
and some funds were provided in P.L. 110-252, as shown in the tables. On May 30, 2008, Maj.
Gen. Arnold Fields (Marine, ret.) was named to the position. He has filed two reports on Afghan 44
reconstruction, most recently October 30, 2008.
Efforts to build the legitimate economy are showing some results, by accounts of senior U.S.
officials, including expansion of roads and education and health facilities constructed. USAID
spending to promote economic growth is shown in Table 14, and U.S. and international
assistance to Afghanistan are discussed in the last sections of this paper.
Some international investors are implementing projects, and there is substantial new construction,
such as the Serena luxury hotel that opened in November 2005 (long considered a priority Taliban
target and was attacked by militants on January 14, 2008, killing six) and a $25 million new Coca
Cola bottling factory that opened in Kabul on September 11, 2006. Several Afghan companies are
growing as well, including Roshan and Afghan Wireless (cell phone service), and Tolo Television.
A Gold’s Gym has opened in Kabul as well. The 52-year-old national airline, Ariana, is said to be
in significant financial trouble due to corruption that has affected its safety ratings and left it
unable to service a heavy debt load, but there are new privately run airlines, such as Pamir Air,
Safi Air, and Kam Air. Some Afghan leaders complain that not enough has been done to revive
such potentially lucrative industries as minerals mining, such as of copper and lapis lazuli (a stone
used in jewelry). However, in November 2007, the Afghan government signed a deal with China
Metallurgical Group for the company to invest $2.8 billion to develop Afghanistan’s Aynak
copper field in Lowgar Province; the agreement will include construction of a coal-fired electric
power plant and a freight railway.
The United States is trying to build on Afghanistan’s post-war economic rebound. In September
2004, the United States and Afghanistan signed a bilateral trade and investment framework
agreement (TIFA). These agreements are generally seen as a prelude to a broader but more
complex bilateral free trade agreement, but negotiations on an FTA have not begun to date. On
December 13, 2004, the 148 countries of the World Trade Organization voted to start membership
talks with Afghanistan. Another initiative supported by the United States is the establishment of
joint Afghan-Pakistani “Reconstruction Opportunity Zones” (ROZ’s) which would be modeled
after “Qualified Industrial Zones” run by Israel and Jordan in which goods produced in the zones
receive duty free treatment for import into the United States. For FY2008, $5 million in
supplemental funding was requested to support the zones, but P.L. 110-252 did not specifically th
mention the zones. Bills in the 100 Congress, S. 2776 and H.R. 6387, would authorize the
President to proclaim duty-free treatment for imports from ROZ’s to be designated by the
44 For text of the reports, see http://www.sigar.mil.
Afghanistan’s prospects also appeared to brighten by the announcement in March 2006 of an
estimated 3.6 billion barrels of oil and 36.5 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. Experts believe
these amounts, if proved, could make Afghanistan relatively self-sufficient in energy and able to
export energy to its neighbors.
Afghan officials are said to be optimistic for increased trade with Central Asia now that a new
bridge has opened (October 2007) over the Panj River, connecting Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
The bridge was built with $33 million in (FY2005) U.S. assistance. The bridge will further assist
what press reports say is robust reconstruction and economic development in the relatively
peaceful and ethnically homogenous province of Panjshir, the political base of the Northern
Another major energy project remains under consideration. During 1996-1998, the Clinton
Administration supported proposed natural gas and oil pipelines through western Afghanistan as
an incentive for the warring factions to cooperate. A consortium led by Los Angeles-based Unocal
Corporation proposed a $2.5 billion Central Asia Gas Pipeline (CentGas), which is now estimated
to cost $3.7 billion to construct, that would originate in southern Turkmenistan and pass through 45
Afghanistan to Pakistan, with possible extensions into India. The deterioration in U.S.-Taliban
relations after 1998 largely ended hopes for the pipeline projects while the Taliban was in power.
Prospects for the project have improved in the post-Taliban period. In a summit meeting in late
May 2002 between the leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the three countries
agreed to revive the gas pipeline project. Sponsors of the project held an inaugural meeting on
July 9, 2002 in Turkmenistan, signing a series of preliminary agreements. Turkmenistan’s
leadership (President Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov, succeeding the late Saparmurad Niyazov)
favors the project as well. Some U.S. officials view this project as a superior alternative to a
proposed gas pipeline from Iran to India, transiting Pakistan.
Some of the more stable provinces, such as Bamiyan, are complaining that international aid is
flowing mostly to the restive provinces in an effort to quiet them, and ignoring the needs of poor
Afghans in peaceful areas. Later in this paper are tables showing U.S. appropriations of assistance
to Afghanistan, including some detail on funds earmarked for categories of civilian
reconstruction, and Table 14 lists USAID spending on all of these sectors for FY2002-FY2007.
The following are some key sectors and what has been accomplished with U.S. and international
• Roads. Road building is considered a U.S. priority and has been USAID’s largest
project category there, taking up about 25% of USAID spending since the fall of
the Taliban. Roads are considered key to enabling Afghan farmers to bring
legitimate produce to market in a timely fashion and former commander of U.S.
forces in Afghanistan Gen. Eikenberry said “where the roads end, the Taliban
begin.” Among major projects completed: the Kabul-Qandahar roadway project;
the Qandahar-Herat roadway, funded by the United States, Japan, and Saudi
Arabia, completed by 2006; a road from Qandahar to Tarin Kowt, built by U.S.
military personnel, inaugurated in 2005; and a road linking the Panjshir Valley to
45 Other participants in the Unocal consortium include Delta of Saudi Arabia, Hyundai of South Korea, Crescent Steel
of Pakistan, Itochu Corporation and INPEX of Japan, and the government of Turkmenistan. Some accounts say
Russia’s Gazprom would probably receive a stake in the project. Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Moscow), October 30, 1997, p.
Kabul. In several provinces, U.S. funds (sometimes CERP funds) are being used
to build roads connecting remote areas to regional district centers in several
provinces in the eastern sector. A key priority is building a Khost-Gardez road,
under way currently.
• Education. Despite the success in enrolling Afghan children in school since the
Taliban era (see statistics above), setbacks have occurred because of Taliban
attacks on schools, causing some to close.
• Health. The health care sector, as noted by Afghan observers, has made
considerable gains in reducing infant mortality and improving Afghans’ access to
health professionals. In addition to U.S. assistance to develop the health sector’s
capacity, Egypt operates a 65-person field hospital at Bagram Air Base that
instructs Afghan physicians. Jordan operates a similar facility in Mazar-e-Sharif.
• Agriculture. USAID has spent about 5% of its Afghanistan funds on agriculture,
and this has helped Afghanistan double its agricultural output over the past five
years. Afghan officials say agricultural assistance and development should be a
top U.S. priority as part of a strategy of encouraging legitimate alternatives to
poppy cultivation. (Another 10% of USAID funds is spent on “alternative
livelihoods” to poppy growing, mostly in aid to farmers.) One emerging “success
story” is growing Afghan exports of high quality pomegranate juice called Anar.
To help Afghanistan develop this sector, the U.S. National Guard is deploying
“Agribusiness Development Teams” in several provinces to help Afghan farmers
with water management, soil enhancement, crop cultivation, and improving the
development and marketing of their goods.
• Electricity. About 10% of USAID spending in Afghanistan is on power projects.
The Afghanistan Compact states that the goal is for electricity to reach 65% of
households in urban areas and 25% in rural areas by 2010. There have been
severe power shortages in Kabul, partly because the city population has swelled
to nearly 4 million, up from half a million when the Taliban was in power, but
power to the capital is more plentiful as of March 2008. The Afghan government,
with help from international donors, plans to import electricity from Central
Asian and other neighbors beginning in 2009. Another major pending project is
the Kajaki Dam, located in unstable Helmand Province. USAID has allocated
about $500 million to refurbish the remaining two electricity-generating turbines
(one is operating) of the dam (total project estimate, when completed) which,
when functional, will provide electricity for 1.7 million Afghans and about 4,000
jobs in the reconstruction. In an operation involving 4,000 NATO troops,
components of the second turbine was successfully delivered to the dam in
September 2008 and it is expected to be operational in mid-late 2009.
The United States and the Afghan government are also trying to promote local decision making
on reconstruction. The “National Solidarity Program” (NSD) largely funded by U.S. and other
international donors seeks to create and empower local governing councils to prioritize local
reconstruction projects. The assistance, channeled through donors, provides block grants of about
$60,000 per project to the councils to implement agreed projects, most of which are water
projects. Elections to these local councils have been held in several provinces, and almost 40% of
those elected have been women.46 The U.S. aid to the program is part of the Afghanistan
Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) account. (Of FY2008 ESF funds requested, USAID expects to
spend $45 million on the ARTF, of which $25 million was to be for the budgetary support portion
of the ARTF account, and the remainder might be available for the NSD.
During the 1990s, the United States became the largest single provider of assistance to the Afghan
people. During Taliban rule, no U.S. aid went directly to that government; monies were provided
through relief organizations. Between 1985 and 1994, the United States had a cross-border aid
program for Afghanistan, implemented by USAID personnel based in Pakistan. Citing the
difficulty of administering this program, there was no USAID mission for Afghanistan from the
end of FY1994 until the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan in late 2001.
Since FY2002 and including funds already appropriated for FY2008, the United States has
provided over $31 billion in reconstruction assistance, including military “train and equip” for the
ANA and ANP and counter-narcotics-related assistance. These amounts do not include costs for
U.S. combat operations, which are discussed in CRS Report RL33110, The Cost of Iraq,
Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, by Amy Belasco. The tables 47
below depict the aid.
A key post-Taliban aid authorization bill, S. 2712, the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act (AFSA)
of 2002 (P.L. 107-327, December 4, 2002), as amended, authorized about $3.7 billion in U.S.
civilian aid for FY2003-FY2006. For the most part, the humanitarian, counter-narcotics, and
governance assistance targets authorized by the act were met or exceeded by appropriations.
However, no Enterprise Funds have been appropriated, and ISAF expansion was funded by the
contributing partner forces. The act authorized the following:
• $60 million in total counter-narcotics assistance ($15 million per year for
• $30 million in assistance for political development, including national, regional,
and local elections ($10 million per year for FY2003-FY2005);
• $80 million total to benefit women and for Afghan human rights oversight ($15
million per year for FY2003-FY2006 for the Afghan Ministry of Women’s
Affairs, and $5 million per year for FY2003-FY2006 to the Human Rights
Commission of Afghanistan);
• $1.7 billion in humanitarian and development aid ($425 million per year for
46 Khalilzad, Zalmay (Then U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan). “Democracy Bubbles Up.” Wall Street Journal, March
47 In some cases, aid figures are subject to variation depending on how that aid is measured. The figures cited might not
exactly match figures in appropriated legislation; in some, funds were added to specified accounts from monies in the
September 11-related Emergency Response Fund.
• $300 million for an Enterprise Fund;
• $550 million in draw-downs of defense articles and services for Afghanistan and
regional militaries. (The original law provided for $300 million in drawdowns.
That was increased to $450 million by P.L. 108-106, an FY2004 supplemental
• $1 billion ($500 million per year for FY2003-FY2004) to expand ISAF if such an
expansion takes place.
A subsequent law (P.L. 108-458, December 17, 2004), implementing the recommendations of the
9/11 Commission, contained a subtitle called “The Afghanistan Freedom Support Act
Amendments of 2004.” The subtitle mandates the appointment of a U.S. coordinator of policy on
Afghanistan and requires additional Administration reports to Congress, including (1) on long-
term U.S. strategy and progress of reconstruction, an amendment to the report required in the
original law; (2) on how U.S. assistance is being used; (3) on U.S. efforts to persuade other
countries to participate in Afghan peacekeeping; and (4) a joint State and Defense Department
report on U.S. counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan. The law also contains several “sense of
Congress” provisions recommending more rapid DDR activities; expansion of ISAF; and
In the 110th Congress, H.R. 2446, passed by the House on June 6, 2007 (406-10), would
reauthorize AFSA through FY2010. Some observers say the Senate might take it up early in 2008.
The following are the major provisions of the bill:
• A total of about $1.7 billion in U.S. economic aid and $320 in military aid
(including draw-downs of equipment) per fiscal year would be authorized.
• pilot program of crop substitution to encourage legitimate alternatives to poppy
cultivation is authorized. Afghan officials support this provision as furthering
their goal of combating narcotics by promoting alternative livelihoods.
• enhanced anti-corruption and legal reform programs would be provided.
• mandated cutoff of U.S. aid to any Afghan province in which the Administration
reports that the leadership of the province is complicit in narcotics trafficking.
This provision has drawn some criticism from observers who say that the most
needy in Afghanistan might be deprived of aid based on allegations that are
difficult to judge precisely.
• $45 million per year for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Afghan
Independent Human Rights Commission, and programs for women and girls is
• $75 million per year is authorized specifically for enhanced power generation, a
key need in Afghanistan.
• a coordinator for U.S. assistance to Afghanistan is mandated.
• military drawdowns for the ANA and ANP valued at $300 million per year (un-
reimbursed) are authorized (versus the aggregate $550 million allowed
• authorizes appointment of a special U.S. envoy to promote greater Afghanistan-
• reauthorizes “Radio Free Afghanistan.”
• establishes a U.S. policy to encourage Pakistan to permit shipments by India of
equipment and material to Afghanistan.
International (non-U.S. ) donors have provided over another $25 billion since the fall of the
Taliban, as of October 2008. When combined with U.S. aid, this by far exceeds the $27.5 billion
for reconstruction identified as required for 2002-2010. The U.S. and international totals also
exceed the $30 billion pledged at donors conferences in 2002 (Tokyo), Berlin (April 2004), Kabul
(April 2005), the London conference (February 2006), and since. The Afghanistan Compact
leaned toward the view of Afghan leaders that a higher proportion of the aid be channeled through
the Afghan government rather than directly by the donor community. Only about $3.8 billion of
funds disbursed have been channeled through the Afghan government, according to the Finance
Minister in April 2007. The Afghan government is promising greater financial transparency and
international (United Nations) oversight to ensure that international contributions are used wisely
On June 12, 2008, Afghanistan formally presented its Afghan National Development Strategy in
Paris, asking for $50.1 billion during 2009-2014 from international donors. Of that, $14 billion
was requested to improve infrastructure, including airports and to construct a railway. Another
$14 billion would be to build the ANSF, and about $4.5 billion would be for agriculture and rural
development. However, citing in part a relative lack of transparency in Afghan governance,
donors pledged about $21 billion, but that included $10.2 billion already committed by the United
States. Of the other major pledges, the Asian Development bank pledged $1.3 billion, the World
Bank pledged $1.1 billion, Britain pledged $1.2 billion; France pledged $165 million over two
years; Japan pledged $550 million; Germany offered $600 million over two years, and the
European Union pledged $770 million.
Among multilateral lending institutions, in May 2002, the World Bank reopened its office in
Afghanistan after 20 years. On March 12, 2003, it announced a $108 million loan to Afghanistan,
the first since 1979. Its total loan pledges are listed below, and its projects are concentrated in the
telecommunications and road and sewage sectors. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has also
been playing a major role in Afghanistan; its pledge totals are listed below as well. One of its
projects in Afghanistan was funding the paving of a road from Qandahar to the border with
Pakistan, and as noted above, it is contributing to a project to bring electricity from Central Asia
Major International (non-U.S. ) Pledges to Afghanistan Since Jan. 2002
($ in millions)
World Bank 2,803
Asia Development Bank 2,200
European Commission (EC) 1,768
Saudi Arabia 533
Total Non-U.S. Pledges (including donors not listed) 25,300
Source: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. October 2008 report. p. 140. This table lists
donors pledging over $500 million total.
A few issues remain unresolved from Afghanistan’s many years of conflict, such as Stinger
retrieval and mine eradication.
Beginning in late 1985 following internal debate, the Reagan Administration provided about
2,000 man-portable “Stinger” anti-aircraft missiles to the mujahedin for use against Soviet
aircraft. Prior to the U.S.-led war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, common estimates suggested
that 200-300 Stingers remained at large, although more recent estimates put the number below 48
100. The Stinger issue resurfaced in conjunction with 2001 U.S. war effort, when U.S. pilots
reported that the Taliban fired some Stingers at U.S. aircraft during the war. No hits were
reported. Any Stingers that survived the anti-Taliban war are likely controlled by Afghans now
allied to the United States and presumably pose less of a threat. However, there are concerns that
remaining Stingers could be sold to terrorists for use against civilian aircraft. In February 2002, 49
the Afghan government found and returned to the United States “dozens” of Stingers. In late
48 Saleem, Farrukh. “Where Are the Missing Stinger Missiles? Pakistan,” Friday Times. August 17-23, 2001.
49 Fullerton, John. “Afghan Authorities Hand in Stinger Missiles to U.S.” Reuters, February 4, 2002.
January 2005, Afghan intelligence began a push to buy remaining Stingers back, at a reported 50
cost of $150,000 each.
In 1992, after the fall of the Russian-backed government of Najibullah, the United States
reportedly spent about $10 million to buy the Stingers back, at a premium, from individual
mujahedin commanders. The New York Times reported on July 24, 1993, that the buy back effort
failed because the United States was competing with other buyers, including Iran and North
Korea, and that the CIA would spend about $55 million in FY1994 in a renewed Stinger buy-back
effort. On March 7, 1994, the Washington Post reported that the CIA had recovered only a
fraction (maybe 50 or 100) of the at-large Stingers.
The danger of these weapons has become apparent on several occasions. Iran bought 16 of the
missiles in 1987 and fired one against U.S. helicopters; some reportedly were transferred to
Lebanese Hizballah. India claimed that it was a Stinger, supplied to Islamic rebels in Kashmir
probably by sympathizers in Afghanistan, that shot down an Indian helicopter over Kashmir in 51
May 1999. It was a Soviet-made SA-7 “Strella” man-portable launchers that were fired,
allegedly by Al Qaeda, against a U.S. military aircraft in Saudi Arabia in June 2002 and against
an Israeli passenger aircraft in Kenya on November 30, 2002. Both missed their targets. SA-7s
were discovered in Afghanistan by U.S. forces in December 2002.
Land mines laid during the Soviet occupation constitute one of the principal dangers to the
Afghan people. The United Nations estimates that 5 -7 million mines remain scattered throughout
the country, although some estimates are lower. U.N. teams have destroyed one million mines and
are now focusing on de-mining priority-use, residential and commercial property, including lands
around Kabul. As shown in the U.S. aid table for FY1999-FY2002 (Table 6), the U.S. de-mining
program was providing about $3 million per year for Afghanistan, and the amount increased to
about $7 million in the post-Taliban period. Most of the funds have gone to HALO Trust, a
British organization, and the U.N. Mine Action Program for Afghanistan. The Afghanistan
Compact adopted in London in February 2006 states that by 2010, the goal should be to reduce
the land area of Afghanistan contaminated by mines by 70%.
Table 5. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY1978-FY1998
($ in millions)
Fiscal Devel. Econ. Supp. P.L. 480 (Title I Other (Incl. Regional
Year Assist. (ESF) and II) Military Refugee Aid) Total
1978 4.989 — 5.742 0.269 0.789 11.789
1979 3.074 — 7.195 — 0.347 10.616
1980 — (Soviet invasion-December 1979) — —
1981 — — — — — —
1982 — — — — — —
50 “Afghanistan Report,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. February 4, 2005.
51 “U.S.-Made Stinger Missiles—Mobile and Lethal.” Reuters, May 28, 1999.
Fiscal Devel. Econ. Supp. P.L. 480 (Title I Other (Incl. Regional
Year Assist. (ESF) and II) Military Refugee Aid) Total
1983 — — — — — —
1984 — — — — — —
1985 3.369 — — — — 3.369
1986 — — 8.9 — — 8.9
1987 17.8 12.1 2.6 — — 32.5
1988 22.5 22.5 29.9 — — 74.9
1989 22.5 22.5 32.6 — — 77.6
1990 35.0 35.0 18.1 — — 88.1
1991 30.0 30.0 20.1 — — 80.1
1992 25.0 25.0 31.4 — — 81.4
1993 10.0 10.0 18.0 — 30.2 68.2
1994 3.4 2.0 9.0 — 27.9 42.3
1995 1.8 — 12.4 — 31.6 45.8
1996 — — 16.1 — 26.4 42.5
1997 — — 18.0 — 31.9a 49.9
1998 — — 3.6 — 49.14b 52.74
Source: Department of State.
a. Includes $3 million for demining and $1.2 million for counternarcotics.
b. Includes $3.3 million in projects targeted for Afghan women and girls, $7 million in earthquake relief aid,
100,000 tons of 416B wheat worth about $15 million, $2 million for demining, and $1.54 for
Table 6. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY1999-FY2002
($ in millions)
FY1999 FY2000 FY2001 FY2002 (Final)
U.S. Department of 42.0 worth of 68.875 for 165,000 131.0 (300,000 198.12 (for food
Agriculture (DOA) and wheat (100,000 metric tons. (60,000 metric tons under commodities)
USAID Food For Peace metric tons under tons for May 2000 P.L. 480, Title II,
(FFP), via World Food “416(b)” program.) drought relief) and 416(b))
State/Bureau of 16.95 for Afghan 14.03 for the same 22.03 for similar 136.54 (to U.N.
Population, Refugees and refugees in Pakistan purposes purposes agencies)
Migration (PRM) via and Iran, and to
UNHCR and ICRC assist their
State Department/ 7.0 to various 6.68 for drought 18.934 for similar 113.36 (to various
Office of Foreign NGOs to aid relief and health, programs U.N. agencies and
Disaster Assistance Afghans inside water, and NGOs)
(OFDA) Afghanistan sanitation programs
State Department/HDP 2.615 3.0 2.8 7.0 to Halo
FY1999 FY2000 FY2001 FY2002 (Final)
(Humanitarian Demining Trust/other demining
Aid to Afghan Refugees 5.44 (2.789 for 6.169, of which 5.31 for similar
in Pakistan (through health, training—$3.82 went to purposes
various NGOs) Afghan females in similar purposes
Counter-Narcotics 1.50 63.0
USAID/Office of 0.45 (Afghan 24.35 for
Transition Initiatives women in broadcasting/media
Dept. of Defense 50.9 ( 2.4 million
Foreign Military 57.0 (for Afghan
Financing national army)
Economic Support Funds 105.2
Totals 76.6 113.2 182.6 815.9
Table 7. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2003
($ in millions, same acronyms as Table 6)
FY2003 Foreign Aid Appropriations (P.L. 108-7)
P.L. 480 Title II (Food Aid) 47
Disaster Relief 94
Non-Proliferation, De-mining, Anti-Terrorism (NADR) 5
Refugee Relief 55
Afghan National Army (ANA) train and equip (FMF) 21
Total from this law: 372
FY2003 Supplemental (P.L. 108-11)
Road Construction (ESF, Kabul-Qandahar road) 100
Provincial Reconstruction Teams (ESF) 10
Afghan government support (ESF) 57
ANA train and equip (FMF) 170
(NADR, some for Karzai protection)
Total from this law: 365
Total for FY2003 737
Table 8. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2004
($ in millions, same acronyms as previous tables)
FY2004 Supplemental (P.L. 108-106)
Disarmament and Demobilization (DDR program) (ESF) 30
Afghan government (ESF) $10 million for customs collection 70
Elections/democracy and governance (ESF) 69
Roads (ESF) 181
Schools/Education (ESF) 95
Health Services/Clinics (ESF) 49
Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) 58
Private Sector/Power sector rehabilitation 95
Water Projects 23
Counter-narcotics/police training/judiciary training (INCLE) 170
Defense Dept. counter-narcotics support operations 73
Afghan National Army (FMF) 287
Anti-Terrorism/Afghan Leadership Protection (NADR) 35
U.S. Embassy expansion and security/AID operations 92
Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) 40
Total from this law: 1.367 billion
(of which $60 million is to benefit Afghan women and girls)
FY2004 Regular Appropriations (P.L. 108-199)
Disaster Relief 35
Refugee Relief 72
Afghan women (ESF) 5
Judicial reform commission (ESF) 2
Reforestation (ESF) 2
Aid to communities and victims of U.S. military operations (ESF) 2
Other reconstruction (ESF). (Total FY2004 funds spent by 64
USAID for PRT-related reconstruction = $56.4 million)
ANA train and equip (FMF) 50
Total from this law: 403
Other: P.L. 480 Title II Food Aid .085
.Total for FY2004 1.767 billion
Table 9. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2005
($ in millions)
FY2005 Regular Appropriations (P.L. 108-447)
Assistance to Afghan governing institutions (ESF) 225
Train and Equip ANA (FMF) 400
Assistance to benefit women and girls 50
Agriculture, private sector investment, environment, primary education, reproductive health, and
Child and maternal health 6
Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission 2
Total from this law 985
Second FY2005 Supplemental (P.L. 109-13)
Other ESF: Health programs, PRT programs, agriculture, alternative livelihoods, government capacity
building, training for parliamentarians, rule of law programs (ESF). (Total FY2005 funds spent by USAID 1,073.5
for PRT-led reconstruction = $87.89 million.)
Aid to displaced persons (ESF) 5
Families of civilian victims of U.S. combat ops (ESF) 2.5
Women-led NGOs (ESF) 5
DOD funds to train and equip Afghan security forces. Of the funds, $34 million may go to Afghan
security elements for that purpose. Also, $290 million of the funds is to reimburse the U.S. Army for 1,285
funds already obligated for this purpose.
DOD counter-narcotics support operations 242
Counter-narcotics (INCLE) 220
Training of Afghan police (INCLE) 400
Karzi protection (NADR funds) 17.1
DEA operations in Afghanistan 7.7
Operations of U.S. Embassy Kabul 60
Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) 136
Total from this law 3.453
Other: P.L. 480 Title II Food Aid 56.95
Table 10. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2006
($ in millions)
FY2006 Regular Foreign Aid Appropriations (P.L. 109-102)
(ESF over $225 million subject to certification that Afghanistan is cooperating (Mostly for reconstruction,
with U.S. counter-narcotics) governance, and democracy-building;
Includes $20 million for PRTs)
Peacekeeping (ANA salaries) 18
Counter-narcotics (INCLE) 235 (Includes $60 million to train
Karzai protection (NADR funds) 18
Child Survival and Health (CSH) 43
Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission 2
Aid to civilian victims of U.S. combat operations 2
Programs to benefit women and girls 50
Development Assistance 130.4
Total from this law: 931.4
FY2006 Supplemental Appropriation (P.L. 109-234)
Security Forces Fund 1,908
(Includes $11 million for debt relief
costs, $5 million for agriculture
development, and $27 million for
Northeast Transmission electricity
Embassy operations 50.1
DOD Counter-narcotics operations 103
Migration and Refugee aid 3.4
DEA counter-narcotics operations 9.2
Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) 215
Total from this law $2.331 billion
Other: P.L. 480 Title II Food Aid 60
Total for FY2006 $3.323 billion
Table 11. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2007
($ in millions)
Regular Appropriation (Continuing Appropriation P.L. 110-5)
ESF 479 (USAID plans $42 million for PRTs)
Counter-narc (INCLE) 209.7
Child Survival and Health (CSH) 100.77
Development Assistance (DA) 166.8
P.L. 480 125.268
Total This Law 1,104.326 m
DOD Appropriation (P.L. 109-289)
Security Forces train and equip 1,500 m
DOD Counter-narcotics support 100
Total 1,600 m
FY2007 Supplemental (H.R. 2206/P.L. 110-28)
$653 million request/$737 in final law
of which: 174 for PRTs; 314 for
ESF roads; 40 for power; 155 for rural development; 19 for agriculture; 25
for governance; and 10 for the
“civilian assistance program”
also provides $16 million in Migration
P.L. 480 Title II Food Aid and Refugee aid for displaced
persons, and $16 million International
Disaster and Famine Assistance
U.S. Embassy security 47.2 million requested/79 in final version
5.900 billion requested/5.9064 in final
Security Forces train and equip (includes 3.2 billion for equipment
and transportation; 624 million for
ANP training; 415 for ANA training;
no request/47 million in agreement;
plus 60 million in DOD aid to
INCLE counter-narcotics forces in
Afghanistan and Pakistan; 12 million
Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) 206 (for Afghanistan)
FY2007 supp. 6.970 billion in final version
FY2007 Total 9. 674 billion (all programs)
Table 12. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan,
(Appropriated, In millions)
Afghan National Army (DoD funds) 1,724.68
Afghan National Police (DoD funds) 1,017.38
Counter-Narcotics (INCLE and DoD funds) 619.47
NADR (Karzai protection) 6.29
Radio Free Afghanistan 3.98
Detainee operations 9.6
Small Arms Control 3.0
Terrorist Interdiction Program .99
Counter-Terrorism Finance .60
Border Control (WMD) .75
Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP, DoD funds) 269.4
Direct Support to Afghan Government 49.61
Good Governance 245.08
Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (incl. National Solidarity program) 45.0
Election Support 90.0
Civil Society Building 4.01
Rule of Law and Human Rights 125.28
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) 2.0
Power (incl. Kajaki Dam rehabilitation work) 236.81
PRT programs 75.06
Economic Growth/Private Sector Development 63.06
Water Projects 16.4q
Refugee/IDP Assistance 42.1
Food Aid 101.83
State/USAID Program Support 317.4
Appropriations Laws Derived: Regular FY2008 (P.L. 110-161); FY2008
Supplemental (P.L. 110-252)
Source: Special Inspector General Afghanistan Reconstruction. October 2008 report.; CRS.
Table 13. U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan, FY2009
($ in millions)
(includes 120 for alternative
livelihoods, 248 for democracy and
governance, 226 for econ. growth, 74
for PRT programs)
Child Survival and Health 52
(Plus 57 more of ESF for health and
International Counter-Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE) 250
International Military Education and Training (IMET) 1.4
Other non-military accounts 44
(incl. 12 m. in non-emergency food
Embassy security and maintenance 41.3
appropriated in H.R. 2642
Afghan National Security Forces Funding (DOD funds) 2,000
(provided in H.R. 2642, FY2009
Total Regular Request $3.054 billion
Supplemental Request/H.R. 2642 (P.L. 110-252) FY2009 Supplemental
(455 provided in H.R. 2642)
(funded by H.R. 2642)
Total Supplemental Request 924.9
Other funds $5 million for Special Inspector
General for Afghan Reconstruction
These figures do not include approximately $2.5 billion in DoD funds being used to improve facilities in Qandahar and
elsewhere that will handle the large numbers of U.S. troops expected to arrive in Afghanistan in 2009.
Table 14. USAID Obligations FY2002-FY2008
FY2007 FY 2008
FY FY FY FY FY (reg. + (reg + FY2002-
Sector 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 supp) supp) FY2008
Agriculture 27 56 50 77 27 67 31 335
Alternative 3 1 5 185 121 229 121 665
Roads 51 142 354 276 250 365 398 1836
Power 3 77 286 66 195 203 830
Water 2 1 27 21 1 2 1 54
Econ. Growth 21 12 84 91 46 69 61 383
Education 19 21 104 86 51 63 53 397
Health 8 56 83 111 52 113 66 489
Afghan 38 40 67 87 45 46 45 368
Support to 3 36 31 15 15 17 117
Democracy 22 34 132 88 17 134 17 444
Rule of Law 4 8 21 15 6 10 4 68
PRT Programs 11 56 85 20 126 30 328
Program Suppt 5 6 17 16 4 35 15 98
Internally 108 23 10 - 141
Food Aid 159 51 49 57 60 - 10 386
Civilian 10 10
Totals 471 462 1171 1510 779 1478 1108 6979
Table 15. NATO/ISAF Contributing Nations
(As of December 1, 2008, press reports http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/epub/pdf/isaf_placemat.pdf)
NATO Countries Non-NATO Partner Nations
Belgium 400 Albania 140
Bulgaria 460 Austria 1
Canada 2750 Australia 1090
Czech Republic 415 Azerbaijan 45
Denmark 700 Croatia 300
Estonia 130 Finland 80
France 2785 Georgia 1
Germany 3600 Ireland 7
Greece 130 Macedonia 135
Hungary 240 New Zealand 150
Iceland 8 Sweden 400
Italy 2350 Ukraine 10
Luxemburg 9 Total ISAF force (approx.) 51,350
Netherlands 1770 (NATO factsheet also lists contributors Jordan, UA, and Singapore but with “0”
Norway 455 forces at this time. Diplomats from Singapore maintain that there are military units of
20 persons each in Bamiyan and Uruzgan provinces under ISAF command.)
United States 19,950
Table 16. Provincial Reconstruction Teams
U.S.-Lead (all under ISAF banner)
Gardez Paktia Province (RC-East, E)
Ghazni Ghazni (RC-E). with Poland.
Bagram A.B. Parwan (RC-C, Central)
Jalalabad Nangarhar (RC-E)
Khost Khost (RC-E)
Qalat Zabol (RC-South, S). with Romania.
Asadabad Kunar (RC-E)
Sharana Paktika (RC-E). with Poland.
Mehtarlam Laghman (RC-E)
Jabal o-Saraj Panjshir Province (RC-E), State Department lead
Qala Gush Nuristan (RC-E)
Farah Farah (RC-W)
Partner Lead (all under ISAF banner)
PRT Location Province Lead Force/Other forces
Qandahar Qandahar (RC-S) Canada
Lashkar Gah Helmand (RC-S) Britain. with Denmark and Estonia
Tarin Kowt Uruzgan (RC-S) Netherlands. With Australia and 40 Singaporean military medics and others
Herat Herat (RC-W) Italy
Qalah-ye Now Badghis (RC-W) Spain
Mazar-e-Sharif Balkh (RC-N) Sweden
Konduz Konduz (RC-N) Germany
Faizabad Badakhshan (RC-Germany. with Denmark, Czech Rep.
Meymaneh Faryab (RC-N) Norway. with Sweden.
Chaghcharan Ghowr (RC-W) Lithuania. with Denmark, U.S., Iceland
Pol-e-Khomri Baghlan (RC-N) Hungary
Bamiyan Bamiyan (RC-E) New Zealand (not NATO/ISAF). 10 Singaporean engineers
Maidan Shahr Wardak (RC-C) Turkey
Pul-i-Alam Lowgar (RC-E) Czech Republic
Table 17. Major Factions/Leaders in Afghanistan
Leader Leader Ethnicity Regional Base
Taliban Mullah (Islamic cleric) Muhammad Umar (still at large possibly ultra-Insurgent groups,
in Afghanistan). Jalaludin and Siraj Haqqani allied with Taliban orthodox mostly in the
and Al Qaeda. Umar, born in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, is Islamic, south and east,
about 65 years old. Pashtun and in Pakistan
Islamic Society Burhannudin Rabbani/ Yunus Qanooni (speaker of lower moderate Much of
(leader of house)/Muhammad Fahim/Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (Foreign Islamic, northern and
“Northern Minister 2001-2006). Ismail Khan, a so-called “warlord,” heads mostly Tajik western
Alliance”) faction of the grouping in Herat area. Khan, now Minister of Afghanistan,
Energy and Water, visited United States in March 2008 to sign including Kabul
USAID grant for energy projects.
National Abdul Rashid Dostam. Best known for March 1992 break with secular, Mazar-e-Sharif,
Islamic Najibullah that precipitated his overthrow. Subsequently fought Uzbek Shebergan, and
Movement of Rabbani government (1992-1995), but later joined Northern environs
Afghanistan Alliance. Commanded about 25,000 troops, armor, combat
aircraft, and some Scud missiles, but was unable to hold off
Taliban forces that captured his region by August 1998. During
OEF, impressed U.S. commanders with horse-mounted assaults
on Taliban positions at Shulgara Dam, south of Mazar-e-Sharif,
leading to the fall of that city and the Taliban’s subsequent
collapse. About 2,000 Taliban prisoners taken by his forces
were held in shipping containers, died of suffocation, and were
buried in mass grave. Grave excavated in mid-2008, possibly an
effort by Dostam to destroy evidence of the incident. Was
Karzai rival in October 2004 presidential election, then his top
“security adviser” but now in exile in Turkey.
Hizb-e-Composed of Shiite Hazara tribes from central Afghanistan. Shiite, Bamiyan
Wahdat Karim Khalili is Vice President, but Mohammad Mohaqiq is Hazara province
Karzai rival in 2004 presidential election and parliament. Generally pro-Iranian. Was part of Rabbani 1992-1996 tribes
government, and fought unsuccessfully with Taliban over
Bamiyan city. Still revered by Hazara Shiites is the former
leader of the group, Abdul Ali Mazari, who was captured and
killed by the Taliban in March 1995.
Pashtun Various regional governors and local leaders in the east and Moderate Dominant in
Leaders south; central government led by Hamid Karzai. Islamic, southern,
Hizb-e-Islam Mujahedin party leader Gulbuddin Hikmatyar. Was part of orthodox Small groups
Gulbuddin Soviet-era U.S.-backed “Afghan Interim Government” based in Islamic, around Jalalabad,
(HIG) Peshawar, Pakistan. Was nominal “Prime Minister” in 1992-Pashtun Nuristan, and
1996 mujahedin government but never actually took office. Lost Kunar provinces
power base around Jalalabad to the Taliban in 1994, and fled to
Iran before being expelled in 2002. Still allied with Taliban and
Al Qaeda in operations east of Kabul, but may be open to
ending militant activity. Leader of a rival Hizb-e-Islam faction,
Yunus Khalis, the mentor of Mullah Umar, died July 2006.
Islamic Union Abd-I-Rab Rasul Sayyaf. Islamic conservative, leads a pro-Karzai orthodox Paghman (west
faction in parliament. Lived many years in and politically close Islamic, of Kabul)
to Saudi Arabia, which shares his “Wahhabi” ideology. During Pashtun
anti-Soviet war, Sayyaf’s faction, with Hikmatyar, was a principal
recipient of U.S. weaponry. Criticized the U.S.-led war against
Leader Leader Ethnicity Regional Base
Saddam Hussein after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
Virtually all U.S. and international sanctions on Afghanistan, some imposed during the Soviet
occupation era and others on the Taliban regime, have now been lifted.
• On January 10, 2003, President Bush signed a proclamation making Afghanistan
a beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), eliminating U.S.
tariffs on 5,700 Afghan products. Afghanistan was denied GSP on May 2, 1980,
under Executive Order 12204 (45 F.R. 20740). This was done under the authority
of Section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974 [19 U.S.C. § 2464].
• On April 24, 1981, controls on U.S. exports to Afghanistan of agricultural
products and phosphates were terminated. Such controls were imposed on June 3,
1980, as part of the sanctions against the Soviet Union for the invasion of
Afghanistan, under the authority of Sections 5 and 6 of the Export Administration
Act of 1979 [P.L. 96-72; 50 U.S.C. app. 2404, app. 2405].
• In mid-1992, the George H.W. Bush Administration determined that Afghanistan
no longer had a “Soviet-controlled government.” This opened Afghanistan to the
use of U.S. funds made available for the U.S. share of U.N. organizations that
provide assistance to Afghanistan.
• On March 31, 1993, after the fall of Najibullah in 1992, President Clinton, on
national interest grounds, waived restrictions provided for in Section 481 (h) of
the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 mandating sanctions on Afghanistan
including bilateral aid cuts and suspensions, including denial of Ex-Im Bank
credits; the casting of negative U.S. votes for multilateral development bank
loans; and a non-allocation of a U.S. sugar quota. Discretionary sanctions
included denial of GSP; additional duties on country exports to the United States;
and curtailment of air transportation with the United States. Waivers were also
granted in 1994 and, after the fall of the Taliban, by President Bush.
• On May 3, 2002, President Bush restored normal trade treatment to the products
of Afghanistan, reversing the February 18, 1986 proclamation by President
Reagan (Presidential Proclamation 5437) that suspended most-favored nation
(MFN) tariff status for Afghanistan (51 F.R. 4287). The Foreign Assistance
Appropriations for FY1986 [Section 552, P.L. 99-190] had authorized the
President to deny any U.S. credits or most-favored-nation (MFN) tariff status for
• On July 2, 2002, the State Department amended U.S. regulations (22 C.F.R. Part
1996 addition of Afghanistan to the list of countries prohibited from receiving
exports or licenses for exports of U.S. defense articles and services. Arms sales to
Afghanistan had also been prohibited during 1997-2002 because Afghanistan had
been designated under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(P.L. 104-132) as a state that is not cooperating with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.
• On July 2, 2002, President Bush formally revoked the July 4, 1999, declaration
by President Clinton of a national emergency with respect to Taliban because of
its hosting of bin Laden. The Clinton determination and related Executive Order
trade with Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, and applied these sanctions to
Ariana Afghan Airlines, triggering a blocking of Ariana assets (about $500,000)
in the United States and a ban on U.S. citizens’ flying on the airline. (The ban on
trade with Taliban-controlled territory had essentially ended on January 29, 2002
when the State Department determination that the Taliban controls no territory
• U.N. sanctions on the Taliban imposed by Resolution 1267 (October 15, 1999),
Resolution 1333 (December 19, 2000), and Resolution 1363 (July 30, 2001) have
now been narrowed to penalize only Al Qaeda (by Resolution 1390, January 17,
2002). Resolution 1267 banned flights outside Afghanistan by its national airline
(Ariana), and directed U.N. member states to freeze Taliban assets. Resolution
1333 prohibited the provision of arms or military advice to the Taliban (directed
against Pakistan); directing a reduction of Taliban diplomatic representation
abroad; and banning foreign travel by senior Taliban officials. Resolution 1363
provided for monitors in Pakistan to ensure that no weapons or military advice
was provided to the Taliban.
• P.L. 108-458 (December 17, 2004, referencing the 9/11 Commission
recommendations) repeals bans on aid to Afghanistan outright, completing a pre-
Taliban effort by President George H.W. Bush to restore aid and credits to
Afghanistan. On October 7, 1992, he had issued Presidential Determination 93-3
that Afghanistan is no longer a Marxist-Leninist country, but the determination
was not implemented before he left office. Had it been implemented, the
prohibition on Afghanistan’s receiving Export-Import Bank guarantees,
insurance, or credits for purchases under Section 8 of the 1986 Export-Import
Bank Act, would have been lifted. In addition, Afghanistan would have been able
to receive U.S. assistance because the requirement would have been waived that
Afghanistan apologize for the 1979 killing in Kabul of U.S. Ambassador to
Afghanistan Adolph “Spike” Dubs. (Dubs was kidnapped in Kabul in 1979 and
killed when Afghan police stormed the hideout where he was held.)
Figure A-1. Map of Afghanistan
Source: Map Resources. Adapted by CRS. (K. Yancey 11/22/05)
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs