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Afghanistan security to 'deteriorate' in 2018, warns US intelligence

More US boots on ground in Afghanistan? Washington seems to think so [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 May, 2017

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The Afghan military will continue to struggle with an emboldened Taliban insurgency, paving the way for more US troops into the country.

The security situation in Afghanistan looks set to get worse with US intelligence painting a bleak picture in a committee meeting on Thursday about the ability of the Kabul government to keep a hold of the country.

A strengthened insurgency from Taliban and Islamic State group fighters looks set to pave the way for more US troops to enter the country and bolster Afghan defences.

"The political and security situation in Afghanistan will also almost certainly deteriorate through 2018, even with a modest increase in the military assistance by the US and its partners," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"Afghanistan will struggle to curb its dependence on external support until it contains the insurgency or reaches a peace agreement with the Taliban." 

US-led forces have been fighting in Afghanistan - America's longest war - but Taliban insurgents have launched a series of bold attacks in the capital, undercover attacks on army and police, while overwhelming Afghan defences in some areas.

The head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, General Vincent Stewart, believes if the situation is not addressed soon, the US could find itself bogged down in Afghanistan again.

"Unless we change something... the situation will continue to deteriorate and we'll lose all the gains that we've invested in over the last several years," he said.

A new NATO mission could see US and coalition troops at brigade and battalion level to aid Afghan forces with artillery, intelligence or close air support, he said.

The Taliban, which captured much of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, has launched a brutal insurgency against government and coalition forces since they were overthrown in 2001.

Since then they have been aided by foreign jihadi elements, including Pakistanis, Saudis and Chechens.

"The Taliban is likely to continue to make gains, especially in rural areas," said the US spy chief.

"Afghan security forces' performance will probably worsen due to a combination of Taliban operations, combat casualties, desertions, poor logistics support, weak leadership," he said. 

"Afghanistan will struggle to curb its dependence on external support until it contains the insurgency or reaches a peace agreement with the Taliban."

The US has 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, part of a 13,300-strong NATO mission to train and advise Afghan partner forces fighting the Taliban.

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