The Middle East Institute is proud to host Lieutenant General (Ret.) David W. Barno and Dr. Michael E. O'Hanlon for a discussion about the challenges posed by the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. With the Obama administration aiming to significantly reduce the American military presence in Afghanistan by 2014, the country now faces a number of transitions and potential turning points. Questions abound regarding the management and strategy of the withdrawal process, the transfer of military authority to Afghanistan's domestic forces, and the longer term outlook for the nation's stability and security. The speakers will address concerns regarding the U.S. drawdown and its implications for Afghanistan's military, politics, and society. Additionally, both Dr. O'Hanlon and Lt. General Barno will examine the ongoing U.S. role in the country and the likely nature of American involvement post-2014. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Marvin Weinbaum.
Lieutenant General (Ret.) David W. Barno is a highly decorated military officer with over 30 years of service. He has served in a variety of command and staff positions in the United States and around the world, to include command at every level. He served many of his early years in special operations forces with Army Ranger battalions, to include combat in both the Grenada and Panama invasions. In 2003, he was selected to establish a new three-star operational headquarters in Afghanistan and take command of the 20,000 U.S. and Coalition Forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. For 19 months in this position, he was responsible for the overall military leadership of this complex political-military mission, devising a highly innovative counterinsurgency strategy in close partnership with the U.S. embassy and coalition allies. His responsibilities included regional military efforts with neighboring nations and involved close coordination with the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations, NATO International Security Assistance Force, the U.S. Department of State and USAID, and the senior military leaders of many surrounding nations and numerous allies.
Michael O'Hanlon is a senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and director of research for the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, where he specializes in U.S. defense strategy, the use of military force, and American foreign policy. He is a visiting lecturer at Princeton University, an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. O'Hanlon is a member of the External Advisory Board at the Central Intelligence Agency. He is a commentator on Alhurra TV and also blogs for Fareed Zakaria's Global Public Square site at CNN.com. O'Hanlon's latest books are Bending History: Barack Obama's Foreign Policy with Martin Indyk and Kenneth Lieberthal (Brookings Institution Press, March 2012); The Wounded Giant: America's Armed Forces in an Age of Austerity (Penguin Press 2011); A Skeptic's Case for Nuclear Disarmament (Brookings Institution Press 2010); Toughing It Out in Afghanistan with Hassina Sherjan (Brookings Institution Press 2010); and The Science of War (Princeton University Press 2009).
Marvin G. Weinbaum is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and served as analyst for Pakistan and Afghanistan in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 1999 to 2003. He is currently a scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC. At Illinois, Dr. Weinbaum served for fifteen years as the director of the Program in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. His research, teaching, and consultancies have focused on the issues of national security, state building, democratization, and political economy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is the author or editor of six books and has written more than 100 journal articles and book chapters.