Taliban Controls One-Third Of Afghan Population, As Trump Considers Sending More Troops

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The Taliban exerts significant control over nearly one-third of the Afghan population, a new United Nations report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal reveals.

The report also found the terrorist movement increased the amount of territory under its control from 30 percent to 40 percent of the country. The group has flourished since the end of the U.S. combat mission in 2014 now controlling more territory than at any time since the U.S. invasion since 2001.

The grim report comes as the Trump administration considers sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan to bolster the Afghan National Security Forces in their fight. Both U.S. commanders overseeing the war have told Congress they want more troops for the war to break “the stalemate” with the Taliban.

Acting secretary of defense for special operations, Theresa Whelan, told Congress Thursday the Pentagon will present the plan for more troops to the White House sometime this week. Whelan said the intent of the plan is “to move beyond the stalemate.”

The Afghan National Security Forces however are beset by a myriad problems that more U.S. troops can solve. The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction noted April 30 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 report also found the Afghan forces continue to suffer “shockingly” high casualties, noting 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 Taliban announced its spring fighting season April 28, signaling their annual intent to ramp up operations across the country. The announcement said the group would focus on “foreign forces, their military and intelligence infrastructure.”

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