President Donald Trump’s most senior advisers will present him with a plan to escalate the U.S. military’s mission in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reports.
This plan includes ramping up the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan along with changing the U.S. military’s rules of engagement while supporting the Afghan National Security Forces. The goal of the plan is to curb the Taliban’s battlefield gains and push them into entering a peace process with the Afghan government.
Both U.S. military commanders in charge of the war have told Congress the U.S. is in a stalemate with the Taliban and needs a few thousand more troops to tip the balance.
Trump will reportedly make the final call on the plan before a May 25 meeting with NATO heads of state in Brussels. Trump campaigned on a promise to defeat the Islamic State, which has a nascent presence in Afghanistan. The terrorist group is just one of a myriad problems for the U.S. in Afghanistan.
The Taliban movement controls nearly one-third of the Afghan population and more territory than at any time since 2001, a new United Nations report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal reveals. The plan essentially doubles down on supporting the Afghan National Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban. The Afghan forces, however, are beset by a host of problems, which nearly $75 billion in U.S. aid has been unable to fix so far.
The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction noted April 30 that Afghan forces face “many problems: unsustainable casualties, temporary losses of provincial and district centers, weakness in logistics and other functions, illiteracy in the ranks, often corrupt or ineffective leadership, and over-reliance on highly trained special forces for routine missions.”
The report also found the Afghan forces continue to suffer “shockingly” high casualties, noting 807 Afghan troops were killed in just the first six weeks of 2017, and that nearly 35 percent of the force chooses not to re-enlist each year.
The Taliban announced its spring fighting season April 28, signaling its annual intent to ramp up operations across the country. The announcement said the group would focus on “foreign forces, their military and intelligence infrastructure.”
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