Introduction: Military Adaptation in War
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The current war in Afghanistan has been ongoing now for almost a decade. How have Western states and militaries adapted to the challenges of this war? The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took charge of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan in 2003 , and gradually expanded ISAF out from Kabul to the provinces from 2004 to 2006 . Most of the European partners in ISAF conceptualized the mission their forces would conduct not as war at all, nor even counterinsurgency (COIN), but as a stabilization and reconstruction, only to find out that in Afghanistan this might actually require significant combat. How have their armed forces and the political leadership reacted? As ISAF expanded into the south and east of Afghanistan, it encountered a far more resistant and capable insurgency than had been anticipated. How did NATO and its member states respond? And as the campaign has evolved, key operational imperatives have clearly emerged, including military support to the civilian development effort, closer partnering with Afghan security forces, and greater military restraint. How have the different militaries in ISAF adapted in response to these imperatives?