As the Taliban and ISIS continue to launch attacks across Afghanistan, U.S. and Afghan forces face the daunting task of bringing stability to one of the world’s most volatile countries. The Cipher Brief spoke with Ryan Crocker, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, about the current security apparatus in ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Congressman Will Hurd of Texas about the increasing security challenges in Afghanistan. According to Hurd, U.S. objectives in Afghanistan have remained the same since 2001. Those objectives include creating “a stable and effective government and security apparatus” and preventing “terrorist groups, like al Qaeda from ...

I served as an undercover officer in the CIA in South Asia’s three largest countries: India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. While in Pakistan, I had the opportunity to drive along the road leading to the top of the Khyber Pass—that fabled mountain pass that serves as the gate to Afghanistan from ...

The leader of one of the deadliest factions within the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), Omar Mansoor, was killed in an airstrike in Afghanistan on Wednesday, U.S. officials and the Pakistani military announced. Mansoor was one of Pakistan’s most wanted and brutal militants and was the mastermind behind the 2014 attack on ...

This morning, the White House confirmed the death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Saturday in southwest Pakistan. Mansour had assumed the position of Taliban leader in July 2015, replacing the group’s founder, Mullah Omar. The fallout of his death ...

Last week the Taliban announced the opening of its annual spring offensive. The year ahead is going to be a difficult one for the Afghan government and the small cadre of American and NATO troops that remain in country.  For the past several years, the United States and its NATO ...

One week after announcing the start of its annual “spring offensive” – dubbed “Operation Omari” after the late Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar – the Taliban carried out a suicide attack in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, leaving at least 28 dead and more than 300 injured. This attack demonstrates the ...

As the Taliban causes havoc on the battlefield and with terrorist attacks, The Cipher Brief asked Daniel Markey, a former State Department official and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations to weigh in on the outlook for Afghanistan.   Markey says the Taliban’s car bombing in Kabul on Tuesday ...

The latest devastating attack by the Taliban in Kabul raises the question about the ongoing capabilities of the insurgency.  Jeffrey Eggers, a former assistant to Presidents Bush and Obama and currently a senior fellow at New America, told The Cipher Brief that the car bombing does not mean the Taliban ...

On May 1, 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush delivered his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech declaring, “In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban, many terrorists, and the camps where they trained.” Yet almost 13 years later, the Taliban (meaning “the students”) remains alive and well, threatening Afghanistan’s security ...

Although the Taliban organizations in Afghanistan and Pakistan share the same name, they operate as independent organizations under separate leadership structures. Jeffery Eggers, former Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, pointed out to The Cipher Brief that the Afghan Taliban uses Pakistan as a safe haven for ...

A negotiated peace settlement in Afghanistan in 2016 is unlikely. Negotiations have succeeded in other insurgencies when each side determined that victory was not possible and that a significant portion of their goals could be achieved through negotiations.  That situation does not currently exist in Afghanistan. Since the public acknowledgement ...

Conventional wisdom expected the Taliban to pose a security challenge following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan. The Obama Administration and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pinned hopes on Pakistan, the Taliban’s traditional backer, in arranging talks with the Taliban to manage the extent of the threat posed ...

By all accounts, the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated sharply since U.S. and NATO troops ended combat operations in December 2014. The Taliban control more territory now than at any time in the last 14 years, and the group was able to temporarily capture a key Afghan city in ...

With the international community focused on the expanding threat from ISIS, the persistent threat the Taliban poses to stability in Afghanistan seems to be getting little attention.  The recent rise in Taliban attacks threatens the fragile state of affairs after more than 15 years of war and calls into question ...

Security in Afghanistan is worsening, and the trend has been downward for over a year.  Afghan military and police force casualties are rising and rapidly reaching a point which makes it difficult to sustain, while morale is impacted as desertions are growing and some soldiers and police go months without ...

The rifts among Taliban factions had been growing for some time, bubbling up as the deception over their leader’s death continued. They boiled over last month - not by accident -  on the eve of a second round of peace talks, forcing the Taliban to acknowledge that its supreme commander ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), for a wide-ranging interview.  The general offered his thoughts on the future of Afghanistan. The Cipher Brief: Can the U.S. really withdraw completely from Afghanistan? Does it concern you? GEN McChrystal: I ...

During the 11 months of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s presidency, and despite the combination of a rapid Western pullout and an expanding Taliban insurgency, there had been, nonetheless, at least some small room for optimism.  After all, until a few days ago, Ghani appeared to have established a genuine rapprochement ...

For the past several years, the Obama administration’s strategy for Afghanistan has rested on the basic assumption that although no reasonable amount of U.S. money or troops could win the war against the Taliban outright, a limited American commitment to Afghanistan’s security forces and government would enable Kabul to hold ...