Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Robert Joseph


Taliban, Afghanistan, Pakistan, insurgency, terrorism, Islamic extremism, war strategy, tactics

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


The Taliban emerged as a military force during the Afghan civil war in 1994. By 1996, the Taliban had seized control of most of Afghanistan and established an Islamic government that enforced a strict interpretation of Sharia law. The Taliban provided sanctuary to al Qaeda before and after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. A coalition of forces led by the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and removed the Taliban from power in the autumn of 2001. In the following years, the Taliban adapted its ad hoc military strategy to incorporate more religious-based politics and to win popular support. In the 1990s, they used conventional weapons and met the enemy directly on the battlefield. There has been a shift towards the use of improvised explosive devices, psychological operations, and hit-and-run tactics because the Taliban has recognized that it cannot defeat Western troops in a conventional battle. The sanctuary that Pakistan provides to the Taliban in the border regions has allowed the Taliban to establish training camps, logistics chains, and safe houses from which to conduct operations. Given the Taliban's ability to continue recruiting and receiving external support and the self-imposed Western withdrawal timetables, coalition forces must devise a comprehensive withdrawal strategy that will leave Afghanistan in a relatively stable state and ensure that the country is never again used as a safe haven by terrorists even if the Taliban returns to power.


© Jessica K. Groves

Campus Only