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In Afghanistan, more is not the answer

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Emily Knowles
5 July 2017


This new briefing is based on off-the-record military interviews with both international and local Afghan troops between February and March 2017. At the time of press, NATO had just confirmed that the alliance will increase the number of troops in Afghanistan by several thousand. Our analysis supports the fact that a light-footprint approach to Afghanistan is not working. But crucially, our interviews suggest that it is not necessarily the lack of troops that is doing the most damage to chances of mission success. Instead, the main reason that the conflict in Afghanistan remains locked into a stalemate is the lack of political will to bring maximum pressure to bear on all parties to the conflict to bring them to the negotiation table.


Image credit: Defence Images/Flickr.


About the author:

Emily Knowles is the Project Manager of the Remote Control project. Emily has a background in conflict analysis and security policy, with a focus on the root causes of state fragility. Prior to joining the Remote Control project, Emily worked for Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme, analysing the links between corruption, conflict and state fragility, and working with the military and policy makers to address corruption’s impact on stability. Previously, Emily ran a project on conflict resolution in the Caucasus, focussing on the disputed territory of Abkhazia, and worked with the Dutch think tank The Hague Centre of Strategic Studies to design a data monitor of the drivers of vulnerability to civil war. Emily holds an Msc in International and European Politics from the University of Edinburgh, and a first class BA in French and Spanish from the University of Surrey. In addition to English, French, and Spanish, Emily is proficient in Dutch and Russian.


The Remote Control project is a project of the Network for Social Change hosted by Oxford Research Group. The project examines changes in military engagement, in particular the use of drones, special forces, private military companies and cyber warfare.

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