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Afghanistan's security forces lost 42,000 troops in the last year in a crackdown on 'ghost soldiers'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There has been a sharp drop in the size of Afghanistan's National Defense Security Forces in the past few months due to changes in the way troops are counted and an effort to reduce the number of so-called "ghost" soldiers, a U.S. government watchdog said on Thursday.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a report that ANDSF personnel size had gone down by nearly 10 percentage points in the most recent quarter compared to the previous trimester.
The number of ANDSF troops fell by nearly 42,000 compared to roughly the same period, between April and the end of June last year, the report said.
The disclosure comes as Washington attempts to clinch a framework peace agreement with Taliban insurgents that is expected to include a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops, which now number about 14,000 in Afghanistan.
Some 9,000 of those forces are involved with training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces. U.S. officials have long expressed concerns about the strength and capability of the Afghan forces, especially without adequate international support.
SIGAR, citing information from the U.S.-led coalition, said the decline in Afghan force levels owed to a move by the ANDSF to switch their reporting of personnel strength to the number of biometrically validated forces, rather than just the number reported on-hand by officials in the field.
"The change was part of an effort by the United States and its partners to reduce opportunities for corrupt ANDSF officials to report 'ghost' (nonexistent) soldiers and police on personnel rolls in order to pocket the salaries," the report said.
With a potential U.S. drawdown looming, recent Taliban attacks in Afghanistan have underscored pressure on Afghanistan's overstretched security forces.
A retired Navy SEAL whose war crimes trial made international news has launched a video attack on former SEAL teammates who accused him of murder, shooting civilians and who testified against him at his San Diego court-martial in June.
In a three-minute video posted to his Facebook page and Instagram account Monday, retired Chief Special Operator Edward Gallagher, 40, referred to some members of his former troops as "cowards" and highlighted names, photos and — for those still on active duty — their duty status and current units, something former SEALs say places those men — and the Navy's mission — in jeopardy.
WASHINGTON/KABUL (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday recovered the remains of individuals from a U.S. military aircraft that crashed in Afghanistan and was in the process of confirming their identities, U.S. and Afghan officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
On Monday, the U.S. military said an E-11A aircraft had crashed in the province of Ghazni, but disputed claims by the Taliban militant group that they brought it down.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that U.S. strategic goals could include drawing down troops in Africa despite French pleas that American support is "critical" to countering the growing strength of terror groups in the region with links to the Islamic State and al Qaeda.
"My aim is to adjust our footprint in many places," including Africa, to free up forces for a "great power competition" against China and Russia, he said at a joint Pentagon news conference with French Defense Minister Florence Parly.
The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.
The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.
Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.
Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.