The battle between the Afghan government and the Taliban “remains a stalemate” and the number of districts under Taliban control or influence is “unchanged” since the last assessment by the US military was made more than five months ago.
TheUnited States Military and her NATO allies must keep smoking these vermin until there are none left to smoke.
The Afghan government continues to cede “less vital areas” in order to “prevent defeat.”
That assessment, provided by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in its most recent quarterly report to United States Congress, is likely the best possible scenario provided by the US military.
SIGAR’s evaluation is based on data provided by US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
The only problem is both USFOR-A and Resolute Support have significantly underestimated and understated the Taliban’s control of districts in the past.
The Long War Journal
The Threat Matrix
August 1, 2017
The Taliban released a propaganda video of its fighters battling to take control of the district of Jani Khel in Paktia province.
The district fell to the Taliban last week, along with two others in different regions of Afghanistan.
The video, released by El Emarah Studio, a “part of Multimedia Branch the Cultural Commission Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” shows Taliban fighters fighting at “defensive check posts of the district center.” Taliban fighters are shown just after they overrun mountaintop bases surrounding the Jani Khel district center.
During the fighting, the Taliban killed at least one dozen Afghan security personnel and captured 10 more.
The bodies of Afghan soldiers are presented in the video, while the leader of the Taliban in Jani Khel interviews the captured Afghan security personnel at the end.
The Taliban displayed US-supplied HUMVEES and Ranger pickup trucks used by the police and military that were captured or destroyed.
The Taliban also seized a large quantity of rocket propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, rifles, mortars, and other weapons. Additionally, crates and cases of ammunition were also looted from the district center.
Jani Khel, which fell on July 25, remains under the control of the Taliban. Paktia province is a known stronghold of the Haqqani Network, the powerful Taliban subgroup that is based in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas that is closely allied to al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda has taken advantage of the security situation in Helmand and is known to operate in southern Helmand.
Fighters from al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent have reportedly trained at camps located in Helmand’s Dishu and Khanashin districts as recently as 2014. The town of Baramacha in Dishu is a known hub of jihadist activity.
The camps are believed to be operational to this day. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Al Qaeda operates in southern Helmand province.]
See the entire article below.
Another key indicator that USFOR-A’s data is skewed to present a more positive picture of the security situation is the identification of a problem area in southern Afghanistan. This region was previously described by FDD’s Long War Journal as a belt of bases in the south that stretches across the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, and Ghazni which are used to attack nearby provincial capitals and districts. According to SIGAR:
The region with the most districts under insurgent control or influence is centered on northeastern Helmand Province and northwestern Kandahar Province, and includes the Helmand/Kandahar border area, Uruzgan Province, and northwestern Zabul. This region alone accounts for one-third of the 45 districts currently under insurgent control or influence.
While USFOR-A does not provide data on Taliban control or influence on a province by province basis, it did identify the Taliban threat in two provinces: Helmand and Uruzgan. According to USFOR-A, there are 13 districts controlled of influence in Helmand and Uruzgan combined. If one-third of the 45 districts (15) controlled or influenced by the Taliban reside in the region, then this means only two districts in Zabul and Kandahar are Taliban controlled or influenced. The data clearly shows otherwise.
The Taliban clearly controls three districts in northern Kandahar (Miya Nishin, Khakrez, and Ghorak) and two more in Zabul (Khak-e-Afghan and Arghandab). Several others, including Arghastan, Khakrez, Maruf, Maiwand, and Shah Wali Kot in Kandahar, are contested.
Like in Helmand, al Qaeda has taken advantage of the security situation in Kandahar province to established bases. Up until Oct. 2015, al Qaeda ran two large training camps in Shorabak district. US forces killed more than 150 al Qaeda fighters while raiding the camps.