According to a new database, the US forces in Afghanistan are failing in their main goal of defeating the Taliban. Not only that, but there is a strong trend towards the Taliban increasing the amount of territory that it controls and contests.
All this is despite the recent “Trump surge” in which the President announced the deployment of an additional 4000 troops to reinforce the 8,500 U.S. service members currently active in the region.
The database, set up by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), shows that the Taliban now control or contest 45% of Afghanistan’s districts, up from 40% three months ago and 34% a year earlier. In fact, the Taliban now control more territory today than at any point since 2001, and are gaining momentum. Quite literally, all the blood and money spent on Afghanistan in the last 16 years has been a complete waste.
The database, which is linked to a constantly updated map, is produced by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 policy institute that focuses on foreign policy and national security.
The data seems pretty objective, with the FDD explaining their methodology as follows:
“The data and research behind this map are entirely open-source. This is a living map that FDD’s Long War Journal frequently updates as verifiable research is conducted to support control changes. Any ‘Unconfirmed’ district colored orange has some level of claim-of-control made by the Taliban, but either has not yet been—or can not be—independently verified by FDD’s Long War Journal research. A ‘Contested’ district means that the government may be in control of the district center, but little else, and the Taliban controls large areas or all of the areas outside of the district center. A ‘Control’ district means the Taliban is openly administering a district, providing services and security, and also running the local courts.”
US forces are largely ineffectual as their main operational priority is to avoid casualties, as this leads to domestic political pressure to remove US troops from this piece of “strategic real estate.”
This means they operate in heavily defended cantonments that reduce their exposure to the populace. They engage in relatively few operations and exist mainly as back-up and training for Afghanistan’s 396,000 man army, which is itself ineffectual due to cowardice, corruption, and infiltration by the Taliban.
US forces have also had to cut back on air strikes and drones due to the degree to which this alienates neutrals and even allies. This means that the US has few options to counter the Taliban, whose legend as successful defenders of their land against foreign invaders continues to grow.