Past event

Research Event

The US Kill/Capture Strategy in Afghanistan: Killing Your Way Out of an Insurgency?

Chatham House, London

Asia Programme


Kate Clark, senior analyst, Afghan Analysts Network
Stephen Grey, author
Chair: Gareth Price, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House


In July 2010 when General David Petraeus took command of NATO’s campaign against the Taliban he declared it would be difficult to 'kill your way out of an insurgency'. The speakers will discuss how over the last 12 months, Petraeus has presided over a dramatic expansion of 'Kill and Capture' missions led by elite special force units, with over 12,000 missions and over 1,500 Taliban leaders said to have been killed or captured, along with 3,200 foot-soldiers killed. Over the border in Pakistan, the CIA has launched a parallel Kill program against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The speakers will analyse how accurate these raids have been and what the consequences of this campaign could be both for progress in the military campaign and for Afghanistan’s political prospects. The speakers will also examine how, if at all, the US-directed targeted killings fit with laws of armed conflict and at the repercussions of the policy for any eventual peace talks.