Speakers: Arquilla, J. (Naval Postgraduate School [NPS]); Barfield, T. (Boston University); Rothstein, H. (NPS); Whiteside, C. (NPS)
Date: 16 May 2018
SMA hosted a panel discussion focusing on the most recent round of CENTCOM Reach Back questions as a part of its SMA CENTCOM (Afghanistan) Speaker Series. The panelists for this session included Dr. John Arquilla (Naval Postgraduate School [NPS]), Mr. Thomas Barfield (Boston University), Dr. Hy Rothstein (NPS), and Dr. Craig Whiteside (NPS). They discussed the security situation in Afghanistan, focusing on the impact of the Taliban’s gaining momentum across the country. Also highlighted several key findings: 1) There is a fundamental design flaw in our policy that cannot be fixed by strategy; rather, a good strategy must follow good policy; 2) The US needs to recognize that a centralized government in Afghanistan is inconsistent with the way its society operates; the US should instead encourage a decentralized government; 3) We need to “look ahead by looking back” to adjust our strategy in Afghanistan; and 4) The US must prioritize acquiring resources and not offering any indication that control of territory by ISIS would be preferable over control by the Taliban.