(Associated Press/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

WASHINGTON — Al-Qaeda and its affiliates remain as much of a threat to the U.S. as "it has ever been" after the terrorist group rebuilt itself while the U.S. and other nations focused on destroying ISIS in Iraq and Syria, a State Department official said Thursday.

"Al-Qaeda has been strategic and patient over the past several years," Nathan Sales, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, said at a briefing in Washington. "It's let ISIS absorb the brunt of the world's counterterrorism efforts while patiently reconstituting itself. What we see today is an al-Qaeda that is as strong as it has ever been."

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The deployment of the first of the Army's specially-trained Security Force Assistance Brigades to Afghanistan in 2018 was supposed to be something of a moment of truth for a Pentagon stretched thin by the ever-expanding Global War on Terror.

But according to the U.S. government's chief watchdog for the U.S. military campaign, the units that were supposed to act as the tip of the spear for the Army's newfound emphasis on "advise-and-assist" missions have a major problem: they simply can't find enough soldiers to get the job done.

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Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

President Donald Trump wants U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, but top noncommissioned officers from the services and combatant commands maintain that troops are still eager to go there and to other combat zones.

The general attitude in the ranks on risky deployments is "quite the opposite" of what many might believe, said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Metheny, the top noncommissioned officer for the NATO Resolute Support mission and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

"They're disappointed when you have to tell them about the force caps" on the estimated 14,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan, Metheny said at Pentagon briefings Wednesday by senior NCOs on a range of issues.

The opportunity to deploy is also a factor in recruiting and retention, he said, pointing to what he said is a 108% retention rate for those serving in Afghanistan.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump, speaking at a White House meeting with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, said on Monday the United States is working with Islamabad to find a way out of the war in Afghanistan.

Trump held out the possibility of restoring U.S. aid to Pakistan, depending upon what is worked out, and offered assistance to Islamabad in trying to ease strained ties with India.

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A member of the Taliban holds a flag in Kabul, Afghanistan June 16, 2018. The writing on the flag reads: 'There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah'. (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail)

HELMAND/KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) - At least 25 Afghan soldiers were killed as they repelled an attack on Friday by the Taliban on a military base in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, officials said.

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Afghans clean a broken window of a destroyed house after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. A Taliban suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden vehicle in the capital Kabul on Monday evening, according to officials. (Associated Press/Rahmat Gul)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.

An official of the Taliban militant group, which now reportedly controls nearly half of Afghanistan, says the militant group is not seeking to rule Afghanistan alone in any future government structure and wants to co-exist with current institutions.

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