By William B. Caldwell, IV. and Derek S. Reveron, September 2011
William B. Caldwell, IV., is the commanding general of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A). Derek S. Reveron is assigned to NTM-A and is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College.
Ten years ago, Afghanistan was politically fractured, economically irrelevant, and socially repressive. The Taliban government, recognized by only three countries at the time, reduced the nation’s GDP per capita to under $170, almost completely destroyed public infrastructure, and ruptured Afghanistan into a conglomeration of belligerent localities, geographically isolated from one another. Afghanistan hosted al-Qa’ida and we soon learned what the latest National Military Strategy of the United States underscored, “In this interdependent world, the enduring interests of the United States are increasingly tied to those of other state and non-state actors.” Afghanistan is no exception.
While Taliban totalitarianism attempted to destroy Afghans’ future, the international community has attempted to reverse societal regression. To be sure, Afghanistan still has many challenges, but it is also not the fragmented society it once was either. Insurgent groups still conduct attacks, primarily in the south and east, but much has changed in ten years—Afghanistan is now sovereign, the international community is heavily invested in the future of Afghanistan, and their society is slowly recovering. With international assistance, GDP has increased to $1,000 per capita, almost all Afghans have access to basic health services, and school enrollment increased from 900,000 (mainly boys) to almost seven million (37 percent girls). Women now serve in Parliament and even train to be pilots in the Afghan Air Force. Most of the country is now connected via mobile phones, highways, and common purpose—assuming responsibility for its own security, which remains threatened by various insurgent groups. Read More at War on Terror News