Taliban control of Afghanistan on the rise, US inspector says

The Taliban have strengthened their grip in Afghanistan over the past three years, according to a new report...

Posted: Nov 9, 2018 6:30 AM
Updated: Nov 9, 2018 6:30 AM

The Taliban have strengthened their grip in Afghanistan over the past three years, according to a new report released by the US government's own ombudsman of the war.

In its quarterly report for the US Congress, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said that the Afghan government currently controls or influences only 55.5% of the country's districts, marking the lowest level recorded since SIGAR began tracking district control in November 2015.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan war

Armed forces

Asia

Bombings

Civilian casualties

Conflicts and wars

Continents and regions

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Military

Misc organizations

North America

Rebellions and insurgencies

South Asia

Taliban

The Americas

United States

Unrest, conflicts and war

War casualties

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Deaths and fatalities

Law enforcement

Policing and police forces

Society

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Politics

International relations

International relations and national security

Territorial and national borders

Translated into layman's terms, the report measures "control" -- in which one side runs an area -- and "influence" -- in which one side has the upper hand.

In November 2015, the Afghan government controlled 72% of districts in the country, but now controls just 56% of them. Insurgent influence or control has risen to 12.5% of districts from just 7% and approximately a third of Afghanistan is a "contested" area.

The official figures offer a glimpse into the Afghan army's loosening grip in the face of a determined, sustained Taliban insurgency and a bleak outlook for America's involvement in the war -- now in its 17th year.

The war in Afghanistan is the only US foreign policy issue on which US President Donald Trump has delivered a lengthy personal delineation of policy and goals. In August 2017 he said: "One way or another, these problems will be solved — I'm a problem solver — and, in the end, we will win."

Yet the challenges have been clear for the new US commander in Afghanistan, special forces veteran Gen. Scott Miller. Earlier this month, the top police and intelligence chief of the southern region of Kandahar was shot dead meters away from him during a maximum-security meeting; the gunman also injured one of Miller's top officers.

Civilian deaths at a record high

As the Taliban continues to slightly increase its territorial impact, civilian deaths keep rising.

An escalation in insurgent attacks and fighting between the Taliban and government forces has helped drive the number of civilian deaths this year to its highest point on record. A total of 1,692 civilians were killed by June 30, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

From January 1 to September 30, 313 civilians were killed and 335 injuries in US-backed air strikes alone -- a 39% increase from 2017, according to the report, citing UNAMA data.

Resolute Support, the larger non-combat NATO-led training and advisory mission, said far fewer civilians had died from air strikes, reporting 102 civilian deaths from January to August 15, 2018.

Losing strength 

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANDSF), who are tasked with defending the war-ravaged country from a continuing insurgency, have struggled to maintain personnel -- indicating that a multi-billion dollar training program funded by the US is failing.

The ANDSF is short of roughly 40,000 personnel -- or 11% -- of its target strength of 352,000 personnel.

No explanation was provided for the drop in those numbers, although the growth of the insurgency over the past few years will probably have led to the deaths of many police or army personnel, or contributed to the decision of others to leave the forces.

The United States Department of Justice has also raised concerns about the Afghan attorney general's performance, citing corruption and "unproductive, corrupt and patronage-laden" practices.

Earlier this month, Afghans rode a wave of hope that the notoriously corrupt and inefficient political system in Afghanistan could be overhauled as they cast their ballots in a vote that had already been delayed for three years because of security concerns.

But the days leading up to the vote were marred with violence.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the October 18 attack on the powerful police chief of Kandahar province, Gen. Abdul Raziq Achakzai. Hours after his death, they issued another statement warning Afghans not to participate in what they called "an American project from start to finish."

The Taliban message said the group intended to close all "major and minor roads" throughout the country and urged Afghans to stay indoors. "We do not want to harm any common Afghan and therefore ask the public and especially city dwellers to refrain from participating or casting votes during elections," it said.

A candidate for parliament in Helmand province, Abdul Jabar Qahraman, was killed with three others by a bomb in his campaign office days before the election.

After casting his vote, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked law enforcement, election officials and citizens who made the election possible "despite the risks involved."

Correction: An earlier version of this story and its headline mistakenly included a quote from the 2016 Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction's report.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 764448

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1049701803
Lake567981029
Allen42685698
St. Joseph37253568
Hamilton37131426
Elkhart29699470
Tippecanoe23347230
Vanderburgh23106404
Porter19538327
Johnson18755391
Hendricks18012321
Madison13463345
Clark13450198
Vigo12789255
LaPorte12533224
Monroe12494178
Delaware11100198
Howard10612237
Kosciusko9736123
Hancock8707149
Bartholomew8235157
Warrick8031157
Floyd7975181
Grant7337181
Wayne7222201
Boone7145105
Morgan6886142
Marshall6323116
Dubois6267118
Cass6083111
Dearborn598578
Noble595790
Henry5939111
Jackson514677
Shelby509097
Lawrence4901127
Gibson460696
Montgomery454492
Clinton453555
DeKalb451585
Harrison450576
Whitley414745
Huntington411781
Steuben409560
Miami404073
Jasper399455
Knox387091
Putnam383762
Wabash367383
Adams351656
Ripley350471
Jefferson340486
White338954
Daviess3084100
Wells302281
Greene292285
Decatur291493
Fayette285864
Posey280435
Scott278058
LaGrange276972
Clay273048
Washington252437
Randolph247083
Jennings238149
Spencer237531
Fountain233750
Starke229859
Owen221059
Sullivan219043
Fulton207645
Jay202832
Carroll196522
Orange190556
Perry189139
Vermillion179644
Rush177027
Franklin171635
Tipton171547
Parke153616
Pike141234
Blackford137832
Pulaski122948
Newton122436
Benton109215
Brown105743
Crawford105116
Martin92515
Warren87615
Switzerland8308
Union73510
Ohio58211
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1122104

Reported Deaths: 20467
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1302141493
Cuyahoga1171052259
Hamilton823021259
Montgomery534221059
Summit488431014
Lucas43716832
Butler39925614
Stark33777937
Lorain25975509
Warren24887312
Mahoning22677612
Lake21448396
Clermont20360260
Delaware19105138
Licking16838227
Trumbull16770491
Fairfield16750207
Medina15818276
Greene15497254
Clark14336308
Portage13410218
Wood13332201
Allen12037245
Richland11722213
Miami10993228
Wayne9249227
Columbiana9195236
Muskingum9118137
Pickaway8735123
Tuscarawas8710254
Marion8697140
Erie8116166
Ashtabula7270179
Hancock7043134
Ross7011165
Geauga6946153
Scioto6665108
Belmont6207179
Lawrence5912104
Union590449
Jefferson5722162
Huron5624122
Sandusky5473130
Darke5436130
Seneca5376128
Washington5360111
Athens526360
Auglaize506987
Mercer490585
Shelby480997
Knox4609112
Madison447266
Ashland442698
Defiance438499
Fulton435675
Putnam4351104
Crawford4108111
Brown409462
Preble3944107
Logan391679
Clinton388666
Ottawa375381
Highland364968
Williams356178
Champaign348060
Guernsey329754
Jackson321154
Perry298350
Morrow294543
Fayette288150
Hardin279065
Henry276967
Coshocton272561
Holmes2725102
Van Wert251765
Adams249158
Gallia248950
Pike244537
Wyandot235257
Hocking222263
Carroll200649
Paulding179342
Meigs151040
Noble137739
Monroe137445
Harrison115138
Morgan111624
Vinton87217
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 79°
Angola
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 79°
Huntington
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Decatur
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 79°
Van Wert
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 81°
The summer heat sticks around as we start the work week. Make sure to stay hydrated. Stay inside in the air conditioning or in the shade as much as possible to stay cool.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events