The author examines the role of policy in the guidance of the British, Soviet and the U.S.- NATO wars in Afghanistan. Set in the context of Afghanistan’s history and its socio-cultural environment, the study critically analyzes the negative impact of policy failures - acts of both omission as well as commission - on the conduct and outcome of these three wars. Holding Afghanistan’s physical environment as constant, numerous policy variables are detailed, such as the evolution of grand strategy, resource allocation, governance, and security force assistance. A study of select aspects of the First Anglo-Afghan War and the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan highlights several policy missteps and miscalculations that, if heeded, could have helped today’s policymakers.
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