Finally, a bright spot amid 17 years of war in Afghanistan: insurgent control of the country has started to diminish for the first time in nearly two years, according to a quarterly report to Congress from the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction published on July 30.
According to SIGAR's quarterly report, the number of the country's 407 districts controlled or directly influenced by the Taliban or other insurgent groups fell from 59 to 56, a 1% declinein the last quarter.
However, Afghan government control of the country has also declined, by 16% since November 2015, while insurgent-controlled districts increased by 7% and those considered "contested" by Afghan security forces and militants jumped by 9%.
Additionally, the percentage of the Afghan population living in areas under government control or influence has declined by around 4% since August 2016, while those living in contested areas increased by 6% and areas under insurgent control by some 3%.
As of May 2018, only 65% of the Afghan population lives under the protection of the government. Meanwhile, 12% of the population — 3.9 million civilians — have continued to suffer under Taliban control with virtually no change over the last two years, despite the Afghan government's objective of getting 80% of the population under its wing by 2019.
Just a reminder that T&P; Pentagon correspondent asked Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, explicitly how long the American public should expect to keep sending warfighters to Afghanistan. His response? "These things often take time."
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."