The security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate ahead of the scheduled departure of hundreds of U.S. Marines to Helmand province in the spring.
The situation has become so bad in the area the Marines are headed, one of Afghanistan’s most experienced Generals, GeneralAbdul Raziq, called for a Taliban “safe zone.” The safe zone indicates “he doesn’t believe he can hold the line in the south in the medium to long term,” according to Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Bill Roggio’s recent blog post in the Long War Journal.
Raziq’s call comes shortly after a Pentagon assessment of the U.S. Afghan mission painted a grim picture. The sum of the assessment basically amounts to two ideas: The scale of the problem is much larger than the current U.S. commitment, and the pace of the solution — training Afghan soldiers and then keeping them alive — is faltering dramatically.
The Pentagon also rated the U.S. backed Afghan Security Forces “promising but inconsistent” in their progress since the U.S. ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014. The Taliban now control more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since the U.S. effort began in 2001. The group has proven adept at surrounding and besieging major cities, while consolidating rural areas.
“Afghanistan remains perpetually on the brink of further violence and collapse,” U.S. based security intelligence advisory firm The Soufan Group warned Wednesday.
The security situation in the province is particularly precarious. The Taliban appears to control nearly every major city in the province, except for the capital of Lashkar Gah. Lashkar Gah has come under repeated assault by Taliban forces, and has come dangerously close to falling throughout 2016.
If Lashkar Gah were to fall, it would mark the second time a major city has fallen to Taliban control since the U.S. invasion in 2001.
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