Taliban likely to conduct high-profile attacks in cities
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) remain stalemated with the Taliban-led insurgency, the nominee for Pentagon intelligence chief told lawmakers, expecting the ANSF to maintain stability and security in Kabul and key urban areas.
“However, the Taliban, Al-Qaida, and their extremist allies will likely seek to exploit the reduced coalition presence by pressuring ANSF units in rural areas, conducting high-profile attacks in major population centers and expanding their safe havens,” Lt Gen Vincent Stewart warned.
Director of Defense Intelligence Agency told members of House Armed Services Committee during a hearing that he expected the ANSF to maintain stability and security in Kabul and key urban areas while retaining freedom of movement on major highways.
Stewart said ANSF would remain reliant on coalition enablers for air, intelligence and maintenance support. The ANSF will struggle to effectively fill the void created by the withdrawal of foreign troops, deal with interoperability challenges between the army and police, and address persistent maintenance and logistical issues, he noted.
The Afghan National Army (ANA) was the most proficient security institution in the war-torn country and had shown the capacity to plan and conduct multi-corps operations in high-threat areas, the Pentagon spymaster said.
“However, the ANA will continue to struggle with permanently denying insurgents freedom of movement in rural areas and will remain constrained by its stretched airlift and logistical capacity,” he explained.
High attrition also continues to plague the force, which has struggled to keep its numbers near full capacity. The Afghan National Police (ANP) provide sufficient presence and security within urban centers and provincial and district hubs, but remain vulnerable in controlling high-threat, rural areas, he noted.
Gen Vincent Stewart warned the Taliban would be able to conduct attacks in urban areas through at least 2018, two years after the scheduled withdrawal of all US troops.
“The development of ANSF capabilities in 2015 will be critical as the insurgency will again attempt to increase its influence in rural areas, operate in larger formations and continue to test security forces by temporarily seizing a number of vulnerable rural checkpoints,” the director predicted.
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