Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that, without more U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan, the situation will “continue to deteriorate” and the U.S. will lose the gains already made there.
“Unless we change something where we introduce either U.S. forces, NATO forces, that changes the balance of forces on the ground, changes the fighting outputs on the ground or add additional training and advising capability at lower levels than we do now, the situation will continue to deteriorate and we will lose the gains that we have invested in over the last several years,” Stewart said.
Stewart said that the security apparatus in place in Afghanistan over the past two years has had “mixed results” and that there now exists a “stalemate” between the Taliban terrorists and the military forces fighting to defeat them.
“We have to do something very different than we have been doing in the past,” Stewart said, adding that deterioration in the security environment could result in the Taliban gaining an advantage on the balance of power in the country.
Last week, a Defense Department official told the Senate that the Pentagon would soon offer a set of recommendations to President Donald Trump regarding strategy in Afghanistan in the coming days.
“Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Theresa Whelan said these proposals would be designed to ‘move beyond the stalemate’ with Taliban insurgents,” Breitbart News reported.
Gen. Raymond Thomas of the U.S. Special Operations Command, however, had an assessment that differs from Stewart’s, saying he believes, “We have an adequate number of my troops, special operations forces, on the ground.”
A Reuters article cited U.S. officials who said, “the situation in Afghanistan is even worse than they had expected” and would likely require more troops than was “politically palatable” to deploy.
Fox News reported that one of the biggest problems in Afghanistan is what is believed to be insurgent fighters having the ability to move around the country unimpeded, even in broad daylight.
“No one knows who they are and nobody here seems to be stopping them to find out,” an Afghan official told Fox News.
Stewart told the Senate that he takes two trips to Afghanistan a year — “before the fighting season and after the fighting season” — to make a personal assessment of conditions on the ground.