15 Years in Afghanistan and the Taliban are Making Gains

via the Washington Post:

[. . .]

With control of — or a significant presence in — roughly 30 percent of districts across the nation, according to Western and Afghan officials, the Taliban now holds more territory than in any year since 2001, when the puritanical Islamists were ousted from power after the 9/11 attacks. For now, the top American and Afghan priority is preventing Helmand, largely secured by U.S. Marines and British forces in 2012, from again falling to the insurgency.

As of last month, about 7,000 members of the Afghan security forces had been killed this year, with 12,000 injured, a 26 percent increase over the total number of dead and wounded in all of 2014, said a Western official with access to the most recent NATO statistics. Attrition rates are soaring. Deserters and injured Afghan soldiers say they are fighting a more sophisticated and well-armed insurgency than they have seen in years.

As Afghan security forces struggle, U.S. Special Operations troops are increasingly being deployed into harm’s way to assist their Afghan counterparts. Since Nov. 4, four members of the U.S.-led coalition have been wounded in Helmand, said U.S. Army Col. Michael Lawhorn, a military spokesman. Officially, U.S. military personnel have a mandate only “to train, advise and assist” Afghan forces.

Read more at the Washington Post. . . .

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