Multiple news sources are reporting that US troops on the ground in Afghanistan average between 11,000 -12,000 per day which deviates significantly from past Pentagon numbers indicating an average presence of 8,400 U.S. soldiers per day. This does not include the additional numbers of soldiers that the president has promised to send.
The following two reports detail the status of Taliban militants in Afghanistan…
On August 23, 2017, Sarah Almukhtar of New York Times penned the following report, “How Much of Afghanistan Is Under Taliban Control After 16 Years of War With the U.S.?”
“The American war in Afghanistan is the longest and one of the costliest military operations in United States history.”
“Yet, the Taliban are back in many parts of the country from which they had been purged, and militants associated with both the Taliban and the Islamic State frequently attack civilians.”
Here is latest analysis of the growing reach of the Taliban:”
“The institute has been tracking who controls different parts of Afghanistan. “
“President Trump announced on Monday (8/21/17) that he would send more troops to Afghanistan as part of his strategy to “win” the conflict.
“The plan that Mr. Trump spelled out is similar to that of President Barack Obama and prioritizes counterterrorism and training Afghan forces. But, he said, “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.”
“A terrorist attack in Kabul that killed 150 people in May (2017) could have been the deadliest in Afghanistan since the start of the American-led invasion in 2001.”
As per a January 24, 2017 Al-Jazeera report, “According to a recent report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Western-backed Afghan government has lost control of nearly 5 percent of its territory to the Taliban since the beginning of this year.”
The source for the following data is from the 11/23/17 ISW (Institute for the Study of War) report penned by Catlin Forrest, titled, “AFGHANISTAN PARTIAL THREAT ASSESSMENT: NOVEMBER 22, 2016.”
Taliban militants’ military successes during their 2016 campaign, Operation Omari demonstrate requirements for U.S. policy in Afghanistan. The ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) is incapable of securing major population centers like Lashkar Gah or Kunduz cities or increasing government-controlled territory without significant U.S. support. The ANSF remains highly dependent on current levels of U.S. support to regenerate units and secure government-controlled territory. Resolute Support Commander General John Nicholson stated on September 23 that the Afghan government controls or heavily influences 68- 70% of the population, and Taliban militants control 10% of the population, leaving roughly a quarter of the country contested. The continued expansion of ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan allows global extremist networks like al Qaeda and ISIS and their allies to carve out sanctuaries from which to target the U.S. and its national security interests.
The ANSF is incapable of recapturing significant swaths of Taliban-controlled territory at current levels of U.S. support. The Taliban offensive, Operation Omari is still underway as of November 23. The summer offensive transitioned into a new phase in September that ended when Taliban militants launched multiple concurrent offensives to seize four provincial capitals in October. The ANSF, with vital U.S. support, successfully prevented Taliban militants from capturing the provincial capitals of Helmand, Kunduz, Farah, and Uruzgan during this phase. Taliban militant offensives nevertheless subverted the ANSF’s ability to seize territory from militants, allowing militants to expand their territorial control and threaten remote districts outside of major population centers. Operation Omari did not culminate in October and is continuing into its third phase. Militants have expanded control in remote areas of northern Sar-e Pul Province and threatened a district center in western Farah Province in November while the ANSF prepared to launch the second phase of their 2016 counteroffensive in the eastern provinces. Taliban militants will attempt to besiege provincial capitals in order to pin down the ANSF there through the winter. ”
“U.S. training, assistance, and funding are essential to helping the ANSF weather the loss of combat effectiveness from high operational tempo, significant casualties, and degradation of unit cohesion. The ANSF will reportedly undergo a U.S.-led force regeneration during the upcoming 2016-2017 winter season after incurring high casualties and defections. This regeneration will limit the ANSF’s ability to go on the offensive during this winter season. Taliban militants will take advantage of the ANSF’s pause during regeneration to expand territorial control and launch ground offensives against district centers. Taliban militants previously launched an aggressive offensive over the 2015-2016 winter season in which they made significant gains in Helmand Province. They will likely attempt to repeat similar successes during the upcoming 2016-2017 winter season while the ANSF rests and refits units.”
“Meanwhile, spoilers are undermining the U.S.-backed Afghan National Unity Government, weakening its ability to secure the country. Northern warlord and First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum is attempting to integrate his personal militias with the ANSF, which would impede U.S. operations in northern Afghanistan. Separately, the lower house of Parliament has dismissed several cabinet members in votes of no confidence between November 12 and November 23, which followed the missed deadlines for a Constitutional Loya Jirga and Parliamentary elections in September and October. The National Unity Government is incapable of closing the readiness gaps of the ANSF in the face of these compounding challenges despite continued U.S. support. Taliban militants and extremist networks like al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Haqqani Network will exploit the security gaps created by the volatile political environment in Afghanistan in order to reconstitute sanctuaries from which to target the U.S., its allies, and its interests. “