Building Peace in Afghanistan: Next Steps for U.S. Policy

On May 18th, United States Institute of Peace Vice President of Asia Programs Dr. Andrew Wilder and  former Senior Adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan to DoD Leadership Chris Kolenda discussed the next steps toward a political settlement to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. The discussion focused on the influence of the current U.S. policy review on the path toward a non-military solution to what has become America’s longest war.



Dr. Andrew Wilder


Dr. Andrew Wilder is the Vice President of Asia Programs at the United States Institute of Peace, and previously served as the Director of Afghanistan and Pakistan Programs. Prior to joining USIP, Dr. Wilder served as research director for politics and policy at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, founder and director of Afghanistan’s first independent policy research institution—the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), and in various roles with development and humanitarian programs, including Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps International.

Dr. Wilder’s published work includes The Pakistani Voter: Electoral Politics and Voting Behaviour in the Punjab (Oxford University Press, 1999), and his extensive research has focused on issues related to state-building, development and stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan; his recent work concerns electoral politics in Afghanistan, and the effectiveness of aid in promoting stabilization objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Chris Kolenda

Chris-Kolenda-Afghanistan-PeacebuildingChris Kolenda is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Most recently, Mr. Kolenda served as the senior adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan to senior leadership in the Department of Defense. Mr. Kolenda is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and served in the United States Army with great distinction; in the past he has lead large, complex organizations in the United States and Europe, as well as in combat in Afghanistan. Additionally he served as an Assistant Professor of History at West Point.

In 2007–2008 Mr. Kolenda commanded an airborne infantry task force in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, and produced a dramatic increase in levels of stability in the region through development of an innovative approach to counterinsurgency. According to a 2012 study by the Center of Naval Analyses, Mr. Kolenda’s unit was one of the most highly successful performers in America’s war in Afghanistan. Following this, in 2009 Mr. Kolenda was selected by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to develop a new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, and went on to co-author the McChrystal assessment, as well as pieces of counterinsurgency guidance and military strategy. Mr. Kolenda’s policy and strategic advice has been adopted by three Secretaries of Defense, and the President of the United States.

This was the 38th event in the USIP/PSA Congressional Briefing Series – Topics on International Conflict Resolution and Prevention, an educational program designed to provide congressional staff with opportunities to engage leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staffers in bipartisan forums. The program aims to build cross-party relationships, encourage bipartisan dialogue, and equip staff with new perspectives on critical issues in international conflict, resolution and prevention.