War in Afghanistan: Pentagon report cites 'progress,' provides little
The Pentagon's semiannual report to Congress on the war in Afghanistan has 'progress' in the title but little elsewhere. Instead, it chronicles corruption, violence, and a growing insurgency.
The Pentagon's semiannual report to Congress on the war in Afghanistan paints a picture of a country where corruption remains rampant, violence has increased, and a well-funded Taliban insurgency continues to make troubling gains.Skip to next paragraph
The report, “Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” which was released this week, actually cites little in the way of progress in the war, a major US undertaking that is rapidly losing popular support among Americans and threatens to become a political burden on President Obama.
The number of Afghans rating their security situation as “bad” is “the highest since the nationwide survey began in September 2008,” the report’s authors write, noting that the “downward trend in security perception is likely due to the steady increase in total violence over the past nine months.”
The rise in violence, however, was an anticipated outcome of the ramped up US military operations in the country, the Pentagon says.
A senior defense official who briefed reporters on the findings Tuesday afternoon said the violence is “exactly what we expected. It’s what we predicted.” It is the result, he says, of an influx of US troops into the country – a US presence that is now at an all-time high of some 100,000 military personnel – running headlong into an active insurgency.
According to the report, the Taliban insurgency’s capabilities and operational reach “have been qualitatively and geographically expanding” with plentiful sources of funding.
Iran, meanwhile, often cited by US commanders as a catalyst for violence in Iraq at the height of the insurgency there, has not sought to expand its influence in Afghanistan, according to the report. While the country continues to provide “small arms, ammunition, RPGs, and materials used to create IEDs,” or improvised explosive devices, intelligence from the past year “indicates neither a significant increase in Iranian support, nor the provision of more advanced Iranian signature weaponry.”
Rampant corruption remains a concern for US officials. According to the report, 80 percent of Afghans believe that corruption impacts their daily lives. “This is consistent with the view that corruption is preventing the Afghan government from connecting with the people and remains a key reason for Afghans supporting the insurgency,” says the report.