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A Worst Case Scenario? Assessing the Impact of a Complete ISAF Military Withdrawal from Afghanistan

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**A War on the Rocks piece published in September 2021 following the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan provides an update using the analysis found in this paper. You can find the War on the Rocks article here**

As the U.S. begins implementing an expected 2014 drawdown in Afghanistan, speculation abounds about what Afghanistan will look like if left in the hands of its national security forces (ANSF). Many analysts have argued that the Taliban will easily take control of their Pashtun homeland in southern Afghanistan. This result is attributed to the Taliban’s provision of shadow governance, its support from Pakistan, its relative success versus ISAF forces in the south, and the general weakness of the Afghan government, both politically and militarily. Though this result may not be so straightforward, there is a significant question of what a conflict would look like following such an outcome. In short, would the Taliban be able to take the rest of the country, or would the ANSF be able to hold off an advance?

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