Security situation deteriorates in Afghanistan: Pentagon
“In the second half of 2015, the overall security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated with an increase in effective insurgent attacks and higher ANDSF and Taliban casualties,” the Pentagon said in its six-monthly report to the Congress.
The report readied between June 1 and November 30 said “though the insurgency remains resilient, the Afghan government remains in control of all major population centers. It continues to deny the Taliban strategic ground throughout the country.”
It said the Taliban remained active in their traditional strongholds, namely in Helmand in the south and Logar and Wardak in the east, and also created a sense of instability for brief periods of time in other parts of the country, such as in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, the Taliban were unable to hold territory they had wrested away from Afghan Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) control, the Pentagon said, adding that the ANDSF consistently retook ground they had temporarily lost to the Taliban.
Although the ANDSF maintain a significant capability advantage over the insurgency, insurgents are improving in their ability to find and exploit ANDSF vulnerabilities, making the security situation still fragile in key areas and at risk of deterioration in other places, the Pentagon reported.
According to the report, Taliban’s resilience throughout the second half of the year demonstrated their resolve to continue fighting.
The elevation of Haqqani network leader, Siraj Haqqani, as Taliban leader Mullah Mansour’s deputy signals that the Haqqanis will remain a critical and lethal component of the overall Taliban-led insurgency, it asserted.
The presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – Khorasan Province (IS-KP) primarily in the eastern province of Nangarhar remains a concern for the Taliban, the Afghan government, and the international community, the report said.
The Pentagon said Afghanistan and Pakistan relations remained essential to progress against terrorist and militant groups on both sides of their shared border.
A return to more frequent high-level political and military-to-military engagements such as those that occurred earlier in 2015 will be an important signal of the direction of bilateral cooperation, the Pentagon said.
“Events during the reporting period such as Corps commander-level meetings between ANDSF and Pakistani military officials to discuss border coordination are positive signs that both countries recognize the need to work together,” it said.
Highly appreciative of the role of the unity government, the Pentagon said a functional National Unity Government, effective leadership within the Afghan security ministries, and the continued development of key operational capabilities and institutional capacity within the ANDSF is critical for sustained progress in Afghanistan.
US train, advise, and assist (TAA) efforts under Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the Resolute Support mission aim to support Afghanistan during this period of significant transition and to continue developing the ANDSF into an effective and sustainable force, it said.
The United States and its allies and partners will continue to support the Afghan people as the United States pursues its national security interests in regional stability and counterterrorism objectives with the ultimate goal of a sovereign, secure, stable, and unified Afghanistan, the report said.
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