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Pentagon watchdog agency questions 'progress' in US war on Afghanistan

US soldiers gather at Kandahar Air base in Afghanistan on January 23, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

A watchdog agency at the US Defense Department has raised new reservations about "progress" in the 16-year-old US-led war on Afghanistan despite deployment of thousands of more troops to the war-ravaged country.

According to Pentagon's office of inspector general, the Afghan government forces had not expanded its areas of control by the end of 2017, even as the US military added nearly 3,500 troops and escalated airstrikes against Taliban militants across the country. AP reported Friday.

The government agency stated in its latest report released Friday that it is too early to judge whether the war strategy announced by President Donald Trump in August would achieve its key objective of compelling the Taliban terrorists to reconcile with the government in Kabul.

It further said it is difficult to measure the plan's effectiveness because potentially useful pieces of information -- such as Afghan military casualty rates -- are no longer publicly available.

The agency also suggested that more yardsticks of "progress" are needed.

Trump introduced a new Afghanistan strategy in August, hinting at relaxing the rules of engagement, accelerating strikes and other military actions aimed at producing “an honorable and enduring outcome”.

Since he took office, the number of troops has nearly doubled in Afghanistan – from 8,500 in early 2017 to 14,000 today.

According to The Washington Post,  the US Army is floating plans to increase the total number of troops in Afghanistan by another 1,000. 

The US invaded Afghanistan with the express aim of defeating Taliban but the militants are openly active in 70 percent of the country, a study released by the BBC said in a report late last month. 

This while former Afghan President Hamid Karzai insisted last week that the US is not in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban but because America’s main rivals like China, Russia and Iran are in the neighborhood.

 “The United States is not here to go to a party,” Karzai said in an interview with The Washington Post on February 14. “There is no need for them to build so many bases just to defeat a few Taliban. They are here because all the great American rivals are in the neighborhood, and we happen to be here, too. They are welcome to stay but not to deceive us.”

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