In this  War Studies Advanced Program, Drs. Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, who spent 15 months in Afghanistan working with General David Petraeus and General John Allen, will examine America’s campaign in Afghanistan. Balancing history, theory, and military strategy, this seminar will consider the U.S.-led coalition’s objectives, the lasting legacies of the Cold War, and the specificities of Afghanistan’s tribal society and regional dynamics.

War Studies Advanced Programs are open only to alumni of the basic War Studies course. These sessions are offered in the winter and summer, and focus either on a national security challenge or on a historical conflict. Learn more about the War Studies Program.

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Defense

Frederick Kagan on the U.S. Military in Afghanistan


James M. Dubik

LTG James M. Dubik (U.S. Army, Ret.) is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Study of War and a Professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. General Dubik has extensive operational experience in Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Bosnia, Haiti, Panama, Honduras, and in many NATO countries.

Frederick W. Kagan

Frederick W. Kagan is a Senior Instructor with the Hertog War Studies Program at the Institute for the Study of War. The author of the 2007 report “Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq,” he is one of the intellectual architects of the successful “surge” strategy in Iraq. He is the director of AEI’s Critical Threats Project.

Kimberly Kagan

Kimberly Kagan is a Senior Instructor with the Hertog War Studies Program and founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War. She is a military historian who has taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Yale, Georgetown, and American University.

Preview the Syllabus by Week/Session



Recommend Reading:


Discussion Questions:

  1. To what extent does Afghanistan’s ethnic puzzle shape internal and external relationships?
  2. What are the most significant impacts of the Afghan-Soviet war and Afghan Civil War on the rise of the Taliban?
  3. Why were the Taliban so easily toppled in 2001?
  4. What are the primary drivers of Pakistan’s policy and strategy toward Afghanistan?



Discussion Questions:

  1. What were the main challenges to building the ANSF?
  2. What were the major challenges in building Afghan government capacity? Aid and development?
  3. How were the 5 lines of effort prioritized and integrated?  How well were they integrated?  What were potential alternatives for prioritization and integration?
  4. What were the strategic implications of kleptocracy and the nature Obama-Karzai relations?
  5. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of the U.S. policy on reconciliation.

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