President Donald Trump is considering sending up to 5,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to bolster the increasingly faltering Afghan National Security Forces.
The Afghan National Security Forces are not doing well in the fight against the Taliban since end of the U.S. combat mission in 2014. The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction noted Sunday that the security force’s casualties continue to be “shockingly high.” The report highlighted 807 Afghan troops were killed in just the first six weeks of 2017, and that nearly 35 percent of the force chooses not to re-enlist each year.
The report continued that Afghan forces face “many problems: unsustainable casualties, temporary losses of provincial and district centers, weakness in logistics and other functions, illiteracy in the ranks, often corrupt or ineffective leadership, and over-reliance on highly trained special forces for routine missions.”
The Trump administration’s considerations come after both U.S. commanders in charge of the war have indicated they want a few thousand more troops to bolster the mission. The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is to support the Afghan national security forces in the fight against the Taliban. The Taliban, however, now controls more territory than at any time since 2001, and just announced a renewed fighting campaign.
Any troop increase from the U.S. would also reportedly include an additional commitment from NATO allies, possibly up-to 13,000 combined forces. The troop increase would also include special operations forces tasked with rooting out al-Qaida terrorist elements, who use the remote landscape of the country as sanctuary.
Top U.S. General in Afghanistan John Nicholson indicated before Congress in February that he wants additional U.S. troops to be embedded at lower command levels of the Afghan forces. This would put U.S. troops closer to the ground war against the Taliban, where they may be able to provide additional assistance.
The risk of casualties rise, however, the closer U.S. forces get to the fight. Two U.S. Army Rangers were killed in action Friday while on a ground raid against Islamic State elements in eastern Afghanistan.
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