NATO forces are in the midst of big debate about what direction to take in Afghanistan. We contend that this debate should be informed by previous counter-insurgency (COIN) experiences. The Mughuls, British and Soviets all failed to subjugate Afghanistan and these failures offer valuable lessons for today. In spite of advances in technology, physical geography, cultural characteristics and historical factors have limited the degree to which insurgency and counter-insurgency policies can be modified. This constancy over time makes the experiences of the past especially relevant for today.