The Battle for Advantage in Afghanistan

Nov 29, 2017 | 08:12 GMT

U.S. marines talk to Ugandan contractors at a guard station in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Beyond diplomatic efforts to regionalize the conflict and enlist more cooperation from Pakistan, the United States will focus its efforts on finding ways to push the Taliban back on the battlefield. A key aspect of this effort will be to improve the overall capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces.



  • Both the U.S.-backed Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban will ramp up their operations in the years ahead to break the stalemate in Afghanistan.
  • The Taliban will seek to elevate its rural insurgency by seizing critical urban terrain, while Afghan security forces will transition to major offensive operations to regain key territory in the countryside.
  • Both sides, however, will face substantial obstacles, impeding their efforts toward breaking the stalemate.

The war in Afghanistan, which has embroiled U.S. and NATO forces in battle with Taliban insurgents for the better part of two decades, remains locked in a stalemate that both sides are trying to figure out how to break. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the U.S. forces in the country, acknowledged the impasse in a Nov. 23 interview, but added that he thinks a coming surge of U.S. troops into the country will help the Afghan National Security Forces conduct major offensives over the next two years that will turn the tide of the war in their favor. Meanwhile, on the other side of the conflict, the Taliban have been busy shoring up their positions and looking for ways to intensify their insurgency. For both sides, however, breaking the stalemate is much easier said than done, especially given the complexities inherent to the Afghan battlefield....

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