On August 21, President Donald Trump announced that he plans to send more thousands of U.S. troops to Afghanistan to extend the American war that began in 2001. The speech Trump gave has no details, only a tweetable line: ‘We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.’
Three days later, Trump’s senior general in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, said that the United States military would crush ISIS in Afghanistan. The Taliban, General Nicholson said, should come to the negotiation table, while the U.S. would expand its attack on ISIS and al-Qaeda. It is therefore reasonable to assume that when Trump said he wants the U.S. military to kill terrorists, he meant ISIS and al-Qaeda, not the Taliban.
The U.S. currently has as many as 12,000 troops in Afghanistan, most of whom provide various kinds of support to the Afghan National Army. The Afghan Army suffers from poor morale as a consequence of erratic pay, poor logistics and an unclear mandate. Its war against the Taliban has been fruitless, as the Taliban’s legions have control now over about half of Afghanistan’s districts. The Taliban is so confident of its strength that in May it released a report showing that it fully controls 34 districts and 16 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
In late July, the Taliban pushed the Afghan National Army out of Faryab, Ghor and Paktia. These areas are in Afghanistan’s northwest, center and southeast, proving that the Taliban is able to dominate areas far outside what had been assumed to be its base in the southern half of the country. A few days ago, Taliban fighters seized Sari Pul province’s Sayad district and more of Faryab province. The Afghan National Army will soon be the Kabul Army if this rate of expansion by the Taliban continues.