Small Wars Journal

State Department Looking at Shifts to Afghanistan Security Assistance

State Department Looking at Shifts to Afghanistan Security Assistance by Meghann Meyers – Military Times

As the U.S. contemplates the would-be terms of a troop drawdown in Afghanistan, the State Department is mulling its training and equipping relationship not only with Afghan security forces, but with surrounding countries that will play a role in the region’s stability long-term.

Teams on the ground in Afghanistan are making assessments on the kinds of diplomatic or military support ― whether that’s equipment, or training on how to use it ― it will continue to provide, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs told Military Times on Thursday.

“If we look at Afghanistan broader than just Afghanistan, and look at it from a regional aspect, then yes, we are looking at where there would be any potential posture shifts for the Afghan security forces and any potential posture shifts on their governance capabilities,” R. Clarke Cooper said…

Read on.


If we were to consider ourselves in a Reverse Cold War today, that is:

a.  A war in which the U.S./the West is more in expansionist mode,and the Russians, et al., are more in containment mode.  And, thus, if we were to: 

b.   View such things as "the gray zone," and "hybrid warfare," more through the lens provided by MG Linder, et. al's, "The Battlefield Tomorrow Fought Today: Winning in the Human Domain" (see my quoted items from same below),


a.  From this exact such Reverse Cold War perspective,

b.  How might we see this move, noted in our article above, of our "State Department ... mulling its training and equipping relationship, not only with Afghan security forces, but with surrounding countries that play a role in the region's stability long-term?"

From MG Linder, et al's, "The Battlefield Tomorrow Fought Today: Winning in the Human Domain:" 

"Where We Fight: Warfare in the Gray Zone

The Gray Zone was first described by Kissinger more than six decades ago as he detailed the complexities of the emerging Cold War. Kissinger highlighted those areas where neither clear military superiority could deter aggression, nor could diplomacy resolve all differences. In essence, and as has become widely observed today, the “gray areas” occur in the space between peace and war." ...

"How We Fight: Shape, Deter, and Defeat

Great power politics have reemerged, but with important differences from past epochs of international competition. Now combined with the availability of people power and ready-to-order non-state assets from an array of issues and geographic areas, the challenges of the Gray Zone abound. Two rival strategies confront the United States in that space between peace and war. First, Russia’s “hybrid warfare” combines all elements of national power around a few simple goals centered on Russia’s image as a regional hegemon with global reach. Differing from the previous Tsarist regional empire and the Soviet globalist one, the new Russian foreign policy has a more pragmatic goal. It aims to build different types of buffer zones against NATO encroachment to the West and U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Central Asia." ...

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

If, as MG Linder and his co-author's above suggest (see the last sentence of the Hybrid Warfare: "How We Fight: Shape, Deter, and Defeat"),

a.  The goal of the U.S./the West is to expand into Central Asia.  And if:

b.  Russia (1) understands this and (2) is determined to prevent this from happening,

Then -- based on these such understanding --  

a.  If we DO pursue this course of action (see "training and equipping -- not only Afghan security forces -- but those of surrounding countries that play a role in the region's stability long-term" as well) 

b.  Then what are the potential consequences of these such actions; this,

c.  Given Russia's "containment"/"buffer zone" determination noted above?

(Or are we simply seeing "tit for tat for tit" here, to wit: West messes around in Russia's backyard [ex: Ukraine], so Russia messes around in our backyard [ex: Venezuela]; Russia messes around in our backyard, so we threaten to mess around further in Russia's backyard [see Central Asia: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikstan, in our article above]?)