Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Report: Progress is bleak toward Afghan security, stability

WASHINGTON — A bleak new Pentagon report released Monday has found that only one of the Afghan National Army's 23 brigades is able to operate independently without air or other military support from the United States and NATO partners.

The report also found that violence in Afghanistan is higher than it was before the surge of U.S. forces into the country two years ago, although it is down from a high in the summer of 2010.

The assessment found that the Taliban remains resilient, that widespread corruption continues to weaken the central Afghan government and that Pakistan persists in providing critical support to the insurgency. Insider attacks by Afghan security forces on their NATO coalition partners, while still small, are up significantly: There have been 37 so far in 2012, compared with two in 2007.

As bright spots, the report identified the continued transition by Afghan security forces into taking the lead on most routine patrols throughout the country and a decline in violence in populated areas like Kabul, the Afghan capital, and Kandahar, the largest city in the south.

The assessment, "Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan," is required twice a year by Congress.

Obama administration officials have said that progress in the war in large part depends on whether the Taliban could rebuild after the hammering it took during the surge, when U.S. forces, with 33,000 additional troops, aggressively pursued insurgents and drove them from critical territory in the south.

But the report was blunt in its assessment of the Taliban's current strength.

"The Taliban-led insurgency remains adaptive and determined, and retains the capability to emplace substantial numbers of IEDs and to conduct isolated high-profile attacks," the report said, using the term for homemade bombs. "The insurgency also retains a significant regenerative capacity."

The report had been due to be released in early November, before the presidential election, but was delayed. The Pentagon did not give a reason for the delay.

In Afghanistan: Gunmen killed Najia Sidiqqi, the acting director for women's affairs in the northeastern province of Laghman, in the latest in a series of violent attacks on women who promote women's rights. She had been filling in for her predecessor, Hanifa Safi, who was assassinated in Laghman in July by a bomb attached to her car.

Pakistan: Taliban suicide bombers attacked a police station in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, killing at least eight people, including three police officers, officials said.

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