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.
New efforts to stamp out corruption among Afghan government officials and extricate the U.S. military from Afghanistan are going, well, terribly, according to a new report to Congress from the Special Inspector General Report for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
The federal watchdog responsible for tracking how American tax dollars are being spent in Afghanistan claimed in a new report that the Department of Defense is deliberately attempting to obscure the extent to which the Taliban and other insurgent groups in the country are flourishing even amid the intensifying U.S.-led military campaign to batter them into submission.
For months now, U.S. leadership has been working with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to stand up a new “territorial force” to fend off Taliban elements on the local level. The new security force would consist of “self-defence units of locally recruited men serving in their own villages… to stabilise areas cleared by regular security forces and establish law and order,” as The Guardian puts it.
After 16 years and $120 billion spent on the reconstruction of Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are alarmingly unprepared to take on the resurgent Taliban that’s slowly clawed back territory since NATO combat operations ended there in 2014. But exactly how unprepared? We may never really know: For only the second time since the beginning of the reconstruction effort in 2002, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan has classified and restricted once-public information regarding the state of Afghan security forces, including “casualties, personnel strength, attrition, capability assessments, and operational readiness of equipment” — all key measures of the country's security woes.