The Taliban, under pressure from a capable Afghan security force that has performed admirably during the 2015 fighting season, is struggling to remain relevant and remains incapable of taking over the country, a Pentagon spokesman told Breitbart News.
Meanwhile, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), a combat veteran of the Iraq war and member of the House Armed Services Committee, told Breitbart News that Afghanistan is in danger of falling back into the hands of Taliban.
Rep. Zinke, a retired commander of the fabled Navy SEAL Team Six, accused President Obama of prematurely ending combat operations in Afghanistan last December, warning that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) was born when the same mistake was made in Iraq.
“I think it’s a real danger in that American disengagement comes at a cost,” he declared. “When we disengaged in Iraq and formed a vacuum, it came at a cost. We’re doing the same thing in Afghanistan. We’re tightening the rules of engagement, we’re disengaging as rapidly as this president can politically get away with, and we’re leaving our allies in the field of battle as a result.”
The Taliban remains undefeated nearly 14 years since the U.S. military toppled their regime when it invaded Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 2011 attacks, but it is far from their goal of retaking control of the Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.
Maj. Roger Cabiness, a Pentagon spokesman, told Breitbart News that the “very capable” Afghan National Defense Security Force (ANDSF), has the personnel, equipment, and leadership required to manage and overcome the 2015 fighting season, the first with Afghan security troops in the lead of security operations against the Taliban and other insurgents.
Nevertheless, many Afghans and outside analysts are concerned that as casualties among Afghan forces and civilians continue to mount and the U.S.-led coalition maintains President Obama’s schedule of withdrawing its residual support by the end of 2016, the Afghan security force will not be able to sustain its resistance against the Taliban and other terrorist groups, notes The Wall Street Journal.
“We expect that the ANDSF will see a difficult fight ahead, and this is why the U.S. and the international community continue to support them. The Taliban is under constant pressure from the ANDSF. The Taliban is suffering from dissent within its own ranks, and it lacks popular support,” proclaimed Maj. Cabiness. “So they have turned to high-profile terrorist attacks – particularly against soft targets in Kabul – in a desperate attempt to stay relevant. These predatory tactics reveal the Taliban’s weakness.”
Afghan civilians and the ANDSF, which includes the national army and police force, have suffered record casualties during a recent Taliban resurgence that has gained strength since President Obama declared an end to the U.S.-led combat mission last December.
“Naturally, as the ANDSF takes on more responsibility, it has also taken on more casualties,” said Maj. Cabiness. “But these casualties have not affected the ANDSF’s will to fight, nor its capabilities. The ANDSF continues to counter the Taliban and defend the Afghan people.”
The Taliban has captured areas that were once liberated by the U.S.-led coalition at a great cost in American military lives and U.S. taxpayer funds, but has failed to score strategic wins that have made an impact in changing the course of the war, notes the Pentagon spokesman and The Wall Street Journal.
“To the credit of the ANDSF, the Taliban has struggled to hold territory for more than 24 hours, even in areas where the Taliban was traditionally strong,” Maj. Cabiness told Breitbart News. “While the Taliban has achieved limited tactical victories at the local level such as overrunning isolated and abandoned checkpoints or temporarily occupying a remote district center, they are not capable of achieving any strategic victories at the national level.”
“The government of Afghanistan remains in control of its 34 provincial centers and the vast majority of its district centers,” he added. “That being said, we recognize that this is a difficult fight. We understand that Afghanistan still needs support.”
In the last few days, the Taliban has managed to gain effective control of northern Helmand province after capturing the Musa Qala district center when Afghan forces fled following several days of fightings.
Helmand, one of the deadliest provinces for U.S. troops and home to lucrative opium production, has been at the center of U.S. military operations throughout the war, especially during the surge. It lies on Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.