War in Afghanistan: Campaign Progress, Political Strategy, and Issues for Congress [December 17, 2013]   [open pdf - 299KB]

"This is a critical time for U.S. efforts in the war in Afghanistan. U.S. military engagement beyond December 2014, when the current NATO mission ends, depends on the achievement of a U.S. - Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), specifying the status of U.S. forces. Afghan President Hamid Karzai threw the BSA process into confusion by introducing new terms and conditions after a deal had been reached by negotiators. Even if a BSA is reached, U.S. decisions are still pending regarding the scope, scale, and timeline for any post-2014 U.S. force presence in Afghanistan. President Obama has indicated U.S. readiness, in principle, to maintain a small force focused on counter-terrorism and supporting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). […] For Congress, next steps in the war in Afghanistan, including near-term policy decisions by the U.S. and Afghan governments, raise several basic oversight issues: the costs associated with a continued U.S. force presence in Afghanistan; the challenges of 're-setting' the force and restoring its readiness as it comes home from Afghanistan; accountability for sound strategy that protects U.S. interests; integration of effort across U.S. government agencies in support of broad U.S. political strategy for Afghanistan; and appropriate prioritization of this effort compared to competing national security exigencies."

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CRS Report for Congress, R43196
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