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About CAPS
Located in Kabul, Afghanistan, CAPS is an independent, research centre that strives to conduct action-oriented research which will influence policy-makers. It works diligently towards building local capacity to produce conflict and threat assessments that will influence the safety and security of the people serving the governments, and international aid organizations.
CAPS Research & Publications
Projects

In-Depth Topical Assessments

CAPS maintains an extensive network throughout the country, making it an ideal actor to carry out in-depth assessments on topics of interest to a wide array of stake holders. From evaluative assessments of key development and programming efforts, needs assessments in local communities, and exploratory studies aimed at expanding knowledge and forming policies of complex, conflict-related issues, CAPS can tailor a study to fit both the needs of the client and the ground realities in any given area of the country.

Past Topical Assessments (Selected):

• Insider Threat, A Rising Challenge (COMISAF)
The largest field-based, independent assessment of trends, motivations, and mitigation challenges facing insider attacks to date.

• Assessment of Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programmes (APRP) in Kandahar, Badghis, Baghlan, and Paktya Provinces (APRP)
Comprehensive evaluation of APRP in four provinces to examine individual and general strengths, weaknesses, and challenges facing the Afghan peace process.

• Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme: Lessons Learned in Helmand (ISAF FRIC)
Focusing on case studies in Marjah and Sangin districts, this assessment examines the successes and challenges of peace and reintegration in one of Afghanistans most volatile provinces.

• The Formal and Informal Justice Sectors in Afghanistan: An Assessment of Local Preferences (International Development Law Organisation IDLO)
Assessment of local preferences regarding justice provision in Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Heart, Balkh and Nangarhar province.

• Womens Professional Participation in Afghanistans Justice Sector (International Development Law Organization IDLO)
Assessment of womens access to the justice sector and potential impact of inclusive policies towards womens professional participation in justice.

• Assessment of Pul-e-Charkhi Prison (CAPS)
Preliminary assessment of the structure and function of Pul-e-Charkhi prison, including service provision, access to justice, human rights accountability, and stakeholder mapping.

• Drugs, Security, & Development
Exploratory study focusing on the relationship between the insurgency and drug trade in Afghanistan in order to identify short, mid and long-term viaible development alternatives to the drug economy.

Provincial/District Profiles

The CAPS team creates provincial profiles that provide an assessment specific to the province. These provincial profiles are done by the CAPS research team and include a preliminary study of the province through available material, conducting interviews with local experts and scholars as well as influential people of the region. Having a general understanding of the province, the team then moves onto field research, traveling to the province and conducting research on the ground. This includes interviews with local civilian leaders, tribal elders and other influential members of society, as well as conducting surveys and engaging the local population. The team also interviews local government officials, representatives of the international community, coalition forces and Afghan National Security forces. Aside from conducting interviews and surveys, the CAPS research team also investigates the ground realities of governance by conducting their own fact-finding missions about the facts and figures of the province. A further round of research is conducted on the district level. This is then compiled into a written profile of the province that is divided into several categories: History, Demographics, Governance, Informal Local Governance, Development and Security.

Examples of past profiles include:

Maidan Wardak

Logar

Badghis

Farah

Uruzgan

Kapisa

Kandahar

Ghazni

Sirkani District, Kunar Province

Khogyani District, Nangarhar Province

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Violent Actors

CAPS maintains a unique and detailed record of all suicide terrorist attacks as well as military operations across Afghanistan. Using this data, the Centre is able to offer detailed insights into the changing patterns and tactics of armed groups and the developing nature of the conflict.

The study of the conflict in Afghanistan also requires an understanding of key actors, such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and others engaged in the conflict. For example, what and where are their logistical, moral and financial bases of support, and who are their partners and enemies? This knowledge is vital in order to understand the background of the key leaders and assess the groups strengths and weaknesses. This analysis enables CAPS to produce threat assessments that offer guidance for different groups who have an interest or are operating in Afghanistan.

Violent Actors Studies:

Suicide Terror Incident Reports

Taliban Profile

Haqqani Profile

Media in Conflict

Armed groups in Afghanistan, just as in the Middle East and Pakistan, use the media to propagate their message, solicit both moral and financial support, and provide distant training and exchange of logistical information required to launch successful operations.

The role of media in conflict expansions, and subsequent mitigation, requires a deeper understanding beyond simple study of the role of the Internet within conflict environments. This has been a popular research topic amongst researchers in recent years. However the fluid nature of the conflict demands a lateral approach, examining the numerous media outlets used by violent actors. CAPS media and conflict project includes analysis of DVDs, audiocassettes and CDs, newspapers and the Internet. The Centre has one of the most up to date archives of propaganda produced by armed groups in Afghanistan and the region. Through detailed and continuous analysis of these sources CAPS is able to produce solid analysis of media use in the conflict.

Past Media Studies:

Weekly Political Overview

Monthly Political Overviews

Analytical Commentaries (Various)

Drugs, Security and Development  
The drug economy is often labeled as the financial driving force behind the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan. Although it is not certain precisely how much of the money produced by the narcotics trade goes into fueling the conflict, it is clear that the production of drugs will continue for as long as there is insecurity in Afghanistan. Incidentally, much of the current insurgency is taking place is the poppy growing areas in the South. Since the fall of the Taliban, more and more provinces are turning to poppy cultivation.

Therefore, it is crucial that a better understanding of this situation is developed. What are the causes behind this development? Precisely how much of the drug trade is channeled to fund violence? How does money from poppy farming flow to the insurgents? What can be done to prevent drug-financed conflict in the near future?

The objective of this research project is to answer these questions and identify short, mid and long-term viable developmental alternatives to the drug economy. The project will study the role of drugs in the ongoing insurgency; the consequences of current policies at drug eradication led by international and national forces and present potential alternatives including farming options, education opportunities and job creation in new markets.

Study of Suicide Terrorism in Afghanistan
Suicide terrorism, a phenomenon that was entirely alien to the region, has become a routine tactic of the insurgents and militant groups. Research analysts at CAPS regularly monitor suicide attacks in Afghanistan and have developed the most up to date database of suicide attacks starting from the first attack against commander Ahmad Shah Massoud on September 9th, 2001.  CAPS continues to analyse the patterns and trends of this phenomenon for better understanding of developments.

CAPS Pre Deployment Training Program

The standard PDT programme is designed to provide education and orientation for civil servants, diplomats, military personnel and other interested parties before they arrive in Afghanistan. The PDT consists of five pillars. Each of the trainings below traditionally ranges from 3-7 sessions, but can be tailored to fit the individual needs of the organization or embassy. Contact the CAPS Research Department for more information regarding curriculum.

Current and Relevant Operating Picture (CROP) – using data and insights from CAPS projects such as the assessment of violent actors in Afghanistan, insider threat assessment, and prospects of reintegration, the centre is able to provide a detailed and up to date analysis of the CROP.

Historical Understanding – Understanding the recent and colonial history of Afghanistan is vital of all working here. This training provides an overview of key events, power politics, and contemporary Afghan history.

Culture – Afghan society consists of numerous complex and overlapping social and cultural relations. The ability to interact with these in a culturally sensitive way is crucial for gaining the support and respect of the people, and is hence vital for international staff entering the country.

Religion – The unity of religion and the state in Islamic countries demands that all those operating in Afghanistan have a basic understanding of Islam.

Language – Afghanistan has two widely used Languages. For Those operating in Central / Northern Afghanistan, CAPS teaches words and phrases commonly encountered in Dari (Afghan Persian). For those working in Western, Southern, and Eastern Afghanistan, the same training is provided in Pashtu.

Current and Relevant Operating Picture (CROP) (7)

Session 1 – Introduction to the course followed by an update of CAPS’ security, narcotics and media    campaigns in Afghanistan.

Session 2 – Lessons learned from 50 years of Counter-insurgency: From Malaya to Iraq.

Session 3 – The Taliban: 10 years on.
Session 4 – Al-Qaeda: franchising global jihad.
Session 5 – Suicide Terrorism: A case study in Afghanistan.
Session 6 – NATO’s operations in Afghanistan.
Session 7 – Afghanistan and the importance of Strategic Communications.

Historical Aspects (4)

Session 1 – History and Revolutions: tough terrain, tough history, tough people (Roots of the struggle: from 1979 to present).

Session 2 – Challenges of Southern Afghanistan: Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan.

Session 3 – The current balance of power in Afghanistan.
Session 4 – The economics of Afghanistan.

Culture (3)

Session 1 – Multi-ethnic society (differences, friction, outlook).
Session 2 – Understanding the Afghan mindset and code of honour.
Session 3 – Everyday culture (hospitality, food, relationships, norms and taboos).

Religion (3)

Session 1 – History of Islam and commonly used terms.
Session 2 – Schools of Islam (Sunni, Shi’ites, Sufi, Salafi), theology, philosophy, beliefs and practices.
Session 3 – Islam in Afghanistan (what’s culture, what’s religion).

Language (3)

Session 1 – Greetings and basic courtesy.
Session 2 – Basic questions and directions.
Session 3 – Emergency phrases.

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