National Security

No Good News For Trump In First Report As President On Afghan War

REUTERS/Mike Theiler.

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The U.S. Special Inspector General For Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) issued a stark report on U.S. progress in Afghanistan, the first report of President Donald Trump’s administration.

The report notes that the Afghan Security Forces only control slightly more than half the country, that pervasive corruption is rife throughout the U.S. backed government, and that drug production is reaching record high levels. The Taliban terrorist movement derives the lion’s share of its income from opium production, which it uses to funds its military offensive against the Afghan government.

SIGAR Inspector General John Sopko highlights that the “two most critical” problems facing the U.S. are “questionable capabilities of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and pervasive corruption.” Worse, the opium production increased by 43 percent in the last year. The surge in production will likely only worsen the global heroin crisis.

“Neither the United States nor its Afghan allies know how many Afghan soldiers and police actually exist,” Sopko noted in May 2016. SIGAR’s assessment is much bleaker than the Pentagon’s official December assessment.

The U.S. resolute support command estimated the Taliban controlled 10 percent of the Afghan population, and contested the U.S.-backed Afghan government for another 20 percent. The report noted that the government was adept at keeping control of the major cities, while continuing to face a “resilient insurgency” in rural areas.

Trump himself has said little about the U.S. role in Afghanistan.

“President-elect Donald J. Trump said he would certainly continue to support Afghanistan security forces and will consider a proposal for more troops after an assessment,” an Afghan official told WSJ days before he assumed office.

He also told The Times of London, “I just looked at Afghanistan and you look at the Taliban – and you take a look at every, every year its more, more, more, you know they have the different colours – and you say, you know – what’s going on?”

“Afghanistan is, is not going well. Nothing’s going well — I guess we’ve been in Afghanistan almost 17 years,” he continued.

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