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Public Policy and Administration


David Kilmnick


Following 16 years of war in Afghanistan the number of U.S. military, Coalition forces and Afghan civilian fatalities has exceeded the number of Americans lost on 9/11 and has cost the United States nearly $841 billion dollars. The results are that Afghanistan remains in turmoil and that terrorist attacks, the reason for the invasion, continues. The question is should United States assess a different approach that would result in less blood and treasure being spent to address the need to mitigate terrorist threats. Guided by the analysis of conventional- centric and asymmetric-centric approaches to a counterterrorism strategy, this qualitative study focused on evaluating the effects of U.S. national strategy for the Afghanistan war between 2001 and 2016. A narrative inquiry was employed that used extensive in-depth interviews with five implementers and five recipients of the American strategy based in Afghanistan. The participants were recruited from the U.S. Special Forces community that implemented American strategy in Afghanistan, and from Afghans that experienced the American strategy firsthand. Data were analyzed by employing an inductive coding method. The literature review revealed an intention to use large military forces to conduct a conventional-centric counterterrorism strategy, but the narrative inquiry revealed a negative effect of the conventional-centric counterterrorism strategy. Though more research in this area is needed the implications from the findings for positive social change that an asymmetric-centric strategy could offer as a possible effective solution for countering terrorism. These recommendations may help national strategy developers develop a structure to develop future counterterrorism strategies.

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