September 16, 2016, 12:00 pm - April 15, 2024, 7:19 am


Carnegie Endowment for International Peace-Choate Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036 (Map)

The Middle East Institute's Louis R. Hughes Lecture Series is pleased to host Vanda Felbab-Brown (Brookings), Matthew Sherman (Former Dept. of Defense), Stephen Tankel (American University), and John Wood (NDU) for a discussion of the growing threat posed by terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

The Afghan state's grinding war against the Taliban is complicated by the militancy of al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, and an emergent Islamic State (ISIS) group. This expert panel will discuss the groups' strengths and weaknesses, operational differences, and interactions with one another and with the Taliban. How great is the threat they pose to the Afghan state? What connections might they have to Pakistan or terrorist networks outside the region? How does Afghanistan figure in the global ambitions and capacities of al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, and ISIS? Marvin Weinbaum (MEI) will moderate the panel. 

The following articles comprise MEI's Policy Focus series on the rising threat of non-state groups in Afghanistan.

Note: Due to an audio malfunction at the venue a recording is not available for this event.

Panelists Biographies:

Vanda Felbab-Brown
Senior Fellow, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, The Brookings Institution
Vanda Felbab-Brown is a senior fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. Her most recent works include Aspiration and Ambivalence: Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan (Brookings Institution Press, 2012) and Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs (Brookings Institution Press, 2010). Felbab-Brown is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the New York University Center for International Cooperation’s U.S.-China Dialogue on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Global Initiative against Organized Crime. She also serves on the advisory board of Crime Law Enforcement and the Taliban Resources Project. She is an expert on international and internal conflicts and nontraditional security threats, including insurgency, organized crime, urban violence and illicit economies. Felbab-Brown received her doctorate in political science from MIT and her bachelor’s from Harvard University.

Matthew Sherman
Former Department of Defense Official, Kabul, Afghanistan
Matthew T. Sherman is a foreign affairs practitioner who has served as a senior advisor to the United States Department of State and Defense. Collectively, he has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly a decade, making him one of the longest serving U.S. government officials to the two conflicts. Mr. Sherman’s last overseas assignment was to Afghanistan for nearly three and a half years with the United States Department of Defense where he served as a civilian advisor to numerous operational and strategic commanders. Most recently, until March 2016, he was the political advisor to the Resolute Support Commander, General John F. Campbell. In 2010 and 2011, he was a member of General Stanley McChrystral’s and later General David Petraeus’s Strategic Advisory Group. From 2003-2006, he was the personal advisor to four Iraqi Ministers of Interior and advised senior Iraqi and coalition personnel on non-military security matters. In the U.S., Sherman has worked as a senior advisor to the Scowcroft Group and an adjunct with the RAND Corporation. In the private sector, Sherman was director of research for General Colin Powell (ret.) and his non-profit organization, America’s Promise. He is a contributor to the The New York Times and The Washington Post, and has appeared on News Hour with Jim Lehrer, ABC’s World News Tonight, and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. Since departing government in mid 2016, he is the founder and CEO of the Strategic Systems Group, a Washington, D.C. based consultancy.

Stephen Tankel
Assistant Professor, School of International Service, American University and Non-resident Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
Stephen Tankel is an assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University and a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He specializes in international security with a focus on terrorism and counterterrorism, political and military affairs in South Asia, and U.S. foreign and defense policies related to these issues.Tankel is on the editorial board of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and is a senior editor of the web magazine War on the Rocks. In 2014, Tankel served as a senior advisor for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs at the Department of Defense. He wrote his first book, Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba (Columbia University Press, 2011) in 2011, and will publish another exploring how partner nations in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia enable and constrain U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

John Wood
Associate Professor, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University
John Wood is an associate professor at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense Univeristy. Prior to joining the NESA Center he served as the National Security Council’s senior director for Afghanistan from 2007- 2009 under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Wood served 28 years in the United States Army as an armor officer, retiring as a colonel. Prior to his time at the National Security Council, he served in the Pentagon as the assistant deputy director for Politico-Military Affairs–Asia on the Joint Staff. He was previously an assistant professor of operations research at the Army Logistics Management College and was later the division chief for Army Well Being on the Army staff. From 2002-2003, he served as the military assistant to the acting secretary of the Army. He is the co-author of From Kabul to Baghdad and Back: The U.S. at War in Afghanistan and Iraq (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2012).

Marvin Weinbaum (moderator)
Director, Center for Pakistan Studies at the Middle East Institute
Marvin Weinbaum is director of the Center for Pakistan Studies at the Middle East Institute. He 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- 2003.