Afghanistan reconstruction a quantitative analysis of the international effort
O'Connell, Thomas J.
Johnson, Thomas H.
Looney, Robert E.
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Since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom nearly seven years ago, Afghanistan has made only very limited progress towards reconstruction. While they have experienced limited political progress under the framework agreed to in Bonn Agreement, the development, reform, and progress in other sectors of the society have predominantly fallen short of expectations. After several years of relative calm, the Taliban reemerged in 2004 significantly increasing their operations and territorial control each year. The influence of the Taliban was accelerated, in part, by the dissatisfaction of the population due to the lack of progress in post-conflict development. In response, the international community and the United States are increasing the money and manpower dedicated to the reconstruction effort. This thesis quantitatively analyzes the number, type, and location of reconstruction projects, the localized Taliban risk level, and the number, type, and location of Taliban attacks from January 2004 to June 2007. The goal of the analysis is to assess the effectiveness of the reconstruction effort at decreasing Taliban attacks and to uncover which sectors have the greatest impact and act as the key leverage points. Through statistical calculations, it was determined that reconstruction projects targeting rural development, agricultural development, and natural resources development had the greatest effect on decreasing the Taliban presence. Local, small-scale security projects, rather than decreasing attacks, actually increased Taliban attacks, in some cases accounting for an amazing 76 percent of the increase. Additionally, the 1 0.3 billion dollars in strategic-level security and infrastructure improvements had no measurable impact on decreasing the level of Taliban attacks. These trends, that direct aid to the livelihood of the population decreased attacks, and aid aimed at direct military confrontation with the Taliban actually increased attacks, reflects a classic counter-insurgency pattern. This supports the position that the struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan will not be won kinetically and a more counter-insurgency focused approach is required.
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