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Thread: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate Warn

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    Default Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate Warn


    Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, U.S. Intelligence Estimate Warns

    December 28, 2013

    A new American intelligence assessment on the Afghan war predicts that the gains the United States and its allies have made during the past three years are likely to have been significantly eroded by 2017, even if Washington leaves behind a few thousand troops and continues bankrolling the impoverished nation, according to officials familiar with the report.

    The National Intelligence Estimate, which includes input from the country’s 16 intelligence agencies, predicts that the Taliban and other power brokers will become increasingly influential as the United States winds down its longest war in history, according to officials who have read the classified report or received briefings on its conclusions. The grim outlook is fueling a policy debate inside the Obama administration about the steps it should take over the next year as the U.S. military draws down its remaining troops.

    The report predicts that Afghanistan would likely descend into chaos quickly if Washington and Kabul don’t sign a security pact that would keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014 — a precondition for the delivery of billions of dollars in aid that the United States and its allies have pledged to spend in Afghanistan over the coming years.

    “In the absence of a continuing presence and continuing financial support,” the intelligence assessment “suggests the situation would deteriorate very rapidly,” said one U.S. official familiar with the report.

    That conclusion is widely shared among U.S. officials working on Afghanistan, said the official, who was among five people familiar with the report who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity to discuss the assessment.

    Some officials have taken umbrage at the underlying pessimism in the report, arguing that it does not adequately reflect how strong Afghanistan’s security forces have become. One American official, who described the NIE as “more dark” than past intelligence assessments on the war, said there are too many uncertainties to make an educated prediction on how the conflict will unfold between now and 2017, chief among them the outcome of next year’s presidential election.

    “I think what we’re going to see is a recalibration of political power, territory and that kind of thing,” said one U.S. official who felt the assessment was unfairly negative. “It’s not going to be an inevitable rise of the Taliban.”

    A senior administration official said that the intelligence community has long underestimated Afghanistan’s security forces.

    “An assessment that says things are going to be gloomy no matter what you do, that you’re just delaying the inevitable, that’s just a view,” said the official. “I would not think it would be the determining view.”

    U.S. intelligence analysts did not provide a detailed mapping of areas they believe are likely to become controlled by specific groups or warlords in coming years, said one of the officials. But the analysts anticipate that the central government in Kabul is all but certain to become increasingly irrelevant as it loses “purchase” over parts of the country, the official said.

    Some have interpreted the intelligence assessment as an implicit indictment of the 2009 troop surge, which President Obama authorized under heavy pressure from the U.S. military in a bid to strengthen Afghan institutions and weaken the insurgency. The senior administration official said the surge enabled the development of a credible and increasingly proficient Afghan army and made it unlikely that al-Qaeda could reestablish a foothold in the country where the Sept. 11 attacks were plotted.

    “By no means has the surge defeated the Taliban,” the official said, but its stated goal was to “reverse the Taliban’s momentum and give the government more of an edge. I think we achieved that.”

    A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which issues intelligence estimates, declined to comment. Officials at the White House declined to speak about the NIE’s findings. In an e-mailed statement, a senior administration official said intelligence assessments are “only one tool in our policy analysis toolbox.”

    “One of the intelligence community’s principal duties is to warn about potential upsides and downsides to U.S. policy, and we frequently use their assessments to identify vulnerabilities and take steps to correct them,” the statement said. “We will be weighing inputs from the [intelligence community] alongside those of the military, our diplomats and development experts as we look at the consequential decisions ahead of us, including making a decision on whether to leave troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014.”

    The Obama administration has sought to get permission from Kabul to keep troops that would carry out counterterrorism and training missions beyond 2014. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States and has made demands that Washington calls unrealistic.

    Karzai’s intransigence has emboldened those in the administration and Congress who favor a quick drawdown. The latest intelligence assessment, some U.S. officials noted, has provided those inclined to abandon Afghanistan with strong fodder.

    NIEs are issued periodically, normally ahead of a major policy decisions. One issued in 2008 was seen by international diplomats as having presented an “unrelentingly gloomy” picture of the state of affairs in Afghanistan, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable that was released by WikiLeaks.

    Another one issued in 2010, when the U.S. troop surge was at its peak, also offered a decidedly grim assessment. U.S. war commanders have submitted rebuttal letters to make note of their disagreements or highlight success stories they felt were not being taken into account.

    The issue came to a head when Gen. David E. Petraeus left command of the international coalition in Kabul to take the helm of the CIA in 2011. He instructed analysts at the agency, which plays the dominant role in shaping NIEs, to consult more closely with commanders on the ground as they put together future war zone intelligence estimates. The directive was seen by some as an affront to the agency’s mandate to provide policymakers with independent, fact-based analysis.

    Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the commander of international troops in Afghanistan, chose not to submit a rebuttal to the latest NIE, according to two U.S. officials. A spokesman for the general said he would not comment on the report.

    Stephen Biddle, a defense policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Afghanistan experts in and out of government have a range of outlooks. The optimists see Afghan security forces expanding their territorial control until the Taliban is forced into a peace deal. Pessimists fear the government could eventually lose control of the capital and other big cities. Biddle said he predicts a stalemate for years to come.

    “Whether it’s a worse or better stalemate depends on the rate at which Congress defunds the war,” he said.

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


    After Billions In U.S. Investment, Afghan Roads Are Falling Apart

    January 30, 2014

    They look like victims of an insurgent attack — their limbs in need of amputation, their skulls cracked — but the patients who pour daily into the Ghazni Provincial Hospital are casualties of another Afghan crisis.

    They are motorists who drove on the road network built by the U.S. government and other Western donors — a $4 billion project that was once a symbol of promise in post-Taliban Afghanistan but is now falling apart.

    Western officials say the Afghan government is unable to maintain even a fraction of the roads and highways constructed since 2001, when the country had less than 50 miles of paved roads. The deterioration has hurt commerce and slowed military operations. In many places, the roads once deemed the hallmark of America’s development effort have turned into death traps, full of cars careening into massive bomb-blast craters or sliding off crumbling pavement.

    “There’s been nothing. No maintenance,” said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

    Since 2012, the United States has refused to fund the Afghan government’s road maintenance projects because it has no faith in the country’s ability to perform even simple tasks, such as dispatching a contractor to fill in a pothole or repaving a stretch of highway.

    Despite those concerns, the U.S. government is still building new roads in Afghanistan, multimillion-dollar projects whose funds were allocated years ago.

    The Afghans say they are doing some maintenance but claim the cutoff in U.S. funds has left them hamstrung.

    “We don’t have enough money to work as they did,” said Mohammad Aref Raiskhel, the director of maintenance at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Works. “I beg them to help us once again.”

    Before the U.S. invasion in 2001, almost all of Afghanistan’s roads — mostly Soviet-built — had been destroyed by war and neglect. The new, U.S.-built highways seemed to be a godsend for this impoverished nation. But the projects became notorious for their exorbitant costs and poorly implemented contracts. Sometimes, money landed in the hands of the Taliban in exchange for a tacit cease-fire during road construction.

    Now the rapid deterioration of the roads could come to symbolize a failure to preserve key gains.

    Some of the roughly 10,000 miles of roads and highways built by Western donors have been worn away by overuse. Others are shredded by hundreds of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) laid by insurgents. Not long ago, U.S. troops and contractors repaired them, but those resources are now gone.

    “It’s very hard for us to justify to our leadership in Washington that we should be putting more funds into this unless there’s some type of response on the other side,” the U.S. official said.

    On the 300-mile Highway One, which connects two of the country’s most important cities, Kabul and Kandahar, the number of fatal car crashes has soared as the road has deteriorated. Military operations, including urgent casualty evacuations, have been slowed by the crumbling highway.

    “The road is a disaster. It causes obstacles and delays and countless casualties,” said a senior Afghan commander in eastern Afghanistan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    The problems are due in part to an insurgency that, 12 years into the war, is far stronger than the United States had anticipated.

    In the past six months, one Afghan battalion unearthed 200 IEDs on a 12-mile stretch of Highway One. In many other cases, the bombs were not detected and wound up exploding, leaving truck-size holes in the asphalt. Few of those holes were adequately filled.

    In the Sayedabad district of Wardak province, one blast crater is 15 feet wide and 25 feet deep, a crevice big enough to swallow an 18-wheeler. Three months after the explosion, there’s been no effort to repair it.

    “If only they would repair the road, we would definitely have fewer casualties,” said Zia Gul, the director of public health in neighboring Ghazni.

    Many officials worry that the U.S.-funded roads still under construction will fall into disrepair after they’re completed. One 60-mile road in eastern Afghanistan, between Khost and Paktia provinces, has cost almost $5 million per mile, largely because of the cost of providing security for construction workers. The last 15 miles are slated to be completed this year.

    A key network

    The United States almost immediately made road construction a top priority after the 2001 invasion — calling an effective network of highways and rural roads the key to both security and economic stability.

    “Wherever the road ends, that’s where the Taliban starts,” said then-U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry in 2006.

    The U.S. military and USAID funded more than $2 billion in roads — one of the largest American investments in Afghanistan. A host of foreign donors, particularly Germany, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, also poured billions into construction.

    During the years of rapid construction, the donors’ conversations with the Afghan government about road maintenance were rare. “There was such an urgent need to build highways,” the U.S. official said. “Maintenance was not the issue at the time.”

    Afghan officials assumed they would receive ongoing financial support to maintain the roads. U.S. officials say they likely would have provided such aid, if the Afghan authorities had proven competent. So far, U.S. efforts to build an Afghan Road Authority that would fund and implement maintenance have been largely ineffective, as tension between the two governments has risen.

    “They are the ones who are incompetent. Look how long it’s taken them to build these roads — and how much they’ve cost,” Raiskhel said.

    Now, U.S. officials say, the problem lies mostly with the Public Works Ministry, a notoriously troubled institution. The ministry has changed little since its formation under the Soviet-backed government in the 1970s, and it lacks the ability to procure contracts or implement its own projects, according to U.S. and other Western officials. Each year, half of its budget goes unspent because of mismanagement, according to U.S. officials.

    The problems are most evident on Highway One, which runs through the country’s most embattled areas.

    In the past, the U.S. Army would dispatch a platoon for days at a time to repair and reopen roads. The rapid American military withdrawal has taken away those resources.

    Thanks to the lack of maintenance in the past two years, U.S. officials say the road has deteriorated roughly 40 percent.

    “Things have gotten so much worse,” said Abdul Jamil, a taxi driver. “Now, if we drive too fast, everyone in the car dies.”

    Afghan officials say they don’t have the resources to replicate the U.S. road maintenance they relied on for a decade.

    Aside from the Afghan government’s institutional weaknesses, a lack of security poses an enormous challenge to would-be maintenance efforts. More than 200 workers were killed in the process of constructing the country’s road network over the last decade. In southern and eastern Afghanistan, any maintenance crew would inevitably become a target.

    In eastern Nurestan province last fall, for example, the World Bank sent surveyors to analyze a possible road construction and maintenance project. Within weeks, the survey was shuttered after its employees were targeted by the Taliban.

    Still, no one doubts the value of the country’s central highway network, deemed the “Ring Road,” which includes Highway One and connects 16 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. More than two-thirds of Afghans live within 30 miles of the road, according to U.S. officials.

    Privately, U.S. officials have been pressuring the Afghan ministries to improve before pledging more funds. So far, that pressure appears to have yielded little.

    “They’ve got to demonstrate that they can step up. . . . Funding is just not possible as things are,” the U.S. official said.

    Last month, a Toyota Corolla carrying 15-year-old Kariumullah Amini and his family slammed into another vehicle on a stretch of Highway One destroyed by a Taliban attack. The drivable part of the road was so narrow that the cars collided head-on. Amini’s mother, father and brother were critically wounded.

    “There are so many problems on the road,” Amini said. “Each day, it gets worse.”

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W

    Companion Thread:As Obama Admin retreats from Afghanistan they give 36 Billion in NATO military hardware to CSTO/SCO

    Karzai to US: Get out of Afghanistan immediately


    Afghan President Hamid Karzai


    Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:27PM GMT

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called on the United States and its Western allies to immediately get out of the country by the 2014 withdrawal deadline.

    President Karzai told the US in his address to Afghan parliament that local security forces were strong enough to defend Afghanistan without Washington’s assistance.

    The remarks come as Afghan military already protects 93 percent of the war-ravaged country.

    The president also warned the US-led NATO countries against continuous meddling in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.
    "I want to say to all those foreign countries who, maybe out of habit, or because they want to interfere, that they should not interfere," Karzai said.

    The remarks come amid a standoff between the US and Afghan leaders over the security agreement that allows the US to keep thousands of its troops in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 withdrawal date for foreign troops.

    President Karzai still refuses to sign the deal despite increasing pressure from Western diplomatic and defense officials.

    Karzai has frequently accused the US of "absolutely" acting like a colonial power in its attempts to force him to sign the security agreement.

    Afghan political groups have also warnedthat things will get worse should the US set up permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

    They have also heaped scorn on the US-led forces for committing unforgivable crimes against Afghan women and children since invading the country in 2001.

    Thousands of Afghan civilians, including a large number of women and children, have been killed during night raids by foreign forces and CIA-run killer drone strikes.

    JR/PR/SL

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W

    You know, it has occurred to me, being a student of history that America has finally come full circle and has apparently reached the pinnacle of success.

    At least as far as like-countries go. That is France, England, Spain, Portugal, the Dutch and the Germans.

    I mean, look at what we've accomplished in just the last three decades. We have BECOME a country like all those others. The Liberal assholes in this country, the socialists and the neo-Europeans living here ought to be proud of American and their accomplishments.

    We've been ordered out of back-woods, third world countries, bitch slapped by the Russians, Chinese, treated like mental midgets and told we're not welcome in places where once our money was coveted.

    The countries above mentioned found themselves in precisely the same positions over the centuries - but they were imperialistic, Empire seeking monarchies then.

    We're neither of those things and yet we've found ourselves treated as the Spaniards who plied the Gold train from South America to Spain. We're treated like pirates of the English, French and Portuguese and hated as were the Dutch during the 16-18th centuries as fat cats with all the holdings in the new world.

    America, Land of the Free, home of the Brave is now led by men and women whose sole goal it appears is to meld America into the rest of the world as a third-world, broken, defeated country incapable of defending even it's own borders from unarmed illegal immigrants - or rather the invasion of thousands, if not millions of others who wanted to be here in this country to collect the honey of the land.

    Now all they will get is what they can take as gang members and criminals from those who still have homes and a few belongings.

    We don't produce anything any more. China does that for us. Our cars are castrated, contain weakened engines, and "Green" "stuff" like airbags, and aluminum that crunches in a crash and kills the occupants.

    We don't produce electronics. Japan does that for us.

    We don't produce oil (not much anyway). The Middle East does that for us.

    We don't feed our own people hardly now. Most of our produce goes to someone else.

    We don't produce intelligent, smart and capable children any more. We allow kids to skate through school from K through 12th and barely read when they hit the streets; some of them hit the streets long before "12th" joining gangs, or just doing drugs, rebelling against their parents (the one's who are left) to expect everything handed to them.

    We don't produce engineers. Other countries, including India, Japan, China, Russia and many other European countries do that in our schools - taking advantage of the last of the braintrust that went to teach in colleges.

    What we do produce now are people like me... old men who are pissed off at what this country has become, veterans, gun owners, believers in the old ways, the Constitution and that America is Great.

    No, we have a lot of "rebels" now. And we're treated like pariahs by the rest of society, calling us "Tea Baggers" and "racists" and all sorts of other names to insult us, demean us and to "put us in our place".

    One day, one day soon, us "Rebels" will arise from the ashes and teach the lessons history should have taught those lazy minded, ignorant, Euro-wannabes the difference in right and wrong, good and bad, Left and Right and it will be the true death of America then.

    But, America, the one we grew up in, will rise again.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W

    Quote Originally Posted by American Patriot View Post
    You know, it has occurred to me, being a student of history that America has finally come full circle and has apparently reached the pinnacle of success.

    At least as far as like-countries go. That is France, England, Spain, Portugal, the Dutch and the Germans.

    I mean, look at what we've accomplished in just the last three decades. We have BECOME a country like all those others. The Liberal assholes in this country, the socialists and the neo-Europeans living here ought to be proud of American and their accomplishments.

    We've been ordered out of back-woods, third world countries, bitch slapped by the Russians, Chinese, treated like mental midgets and told we're not welcome in places where once our money was coveted.

    The countries above mentioned found themselves in precisely the same positions over the centuries - but they were imperialistic, Empire seeking monarchies then.

    We're neither of those things and yet we've found ourselves treated as the Spaniards who plied the Gold train from South America to Spain. We're treated like pirates of the English, French and Portuguese and hated as were the Dutch during the 16-18th centuries as fat cats with all the holdings in the new world.

    America, Land of the Free, home of the Brave is now led by men and women whose sole goal it appears is to meld America into the rest of the world as a third-world, broken, defeated country incapable of defending even it's own borders from unarmed illegal immigrants - or rather the invasion of thousands, if not millions of others who wanted to be here in this country to collect the honey of the land.

    Now all they will get is what they can take as gang members and criminals from those who still have homes and a few belongings.

    We don't produce anything any more. China does that for us. Our cars are castrated, contain weakened engines, and "Green" "stuff" like airbags, and aluminum that crunches in a crash and kills the occupants.

    We don't produce electronics. Japan does that for us.

    We don't produce oil (not much anyway). The Middle East does that for us.

    We don't feed our own people hardly now. Most of our produce goes to someone else.

    We don't produce intelligent, smart and capable children any more. We allow kids to skate through school from K through 12th and barely read when they hit the streets; some of them hit the streets long before "12th" joining gangs, or just doing drugs, rebelling against their parents (the one's who are left) to expect everything handed to them.

    We don't produce engineers. Other countries, including India, Japan, China, Russia and many other European countries do that in our schools - taking advantage of the last of the braintrust that went to teach in colleges.

    What we do produce now are people like me... old men who are pissed off at what this country has become, veterans, gun owners, believers in the old ways, the Constitution and that America is Great.

    No, we have a lot of "rebels" now. And we're treated like pariahs by the rest of society, calling us "Tea Baggers" and "racists" and all sorts of other names to insult us, demean us and to "put us in our place".

    One day, one day soon, us "Rebels" will arise from the ashes and teach the lessons history should have taught those lazy minded, ignorant, Euro-wannabes the difference in right and wrong, good and bad, Left and Right and it will be the true death of America then.

    But, America, the one we grew up in, will rise again.
    Or maybe the one the Founding Fathers would once more recognize, a nation of small farmers and craftsman and tradespeople.

    Afghanistan was never 'won' or 'lost' for us because Afghanistan has never really been a country to begin with, nor will it ever be one. Invaders come, and then they go, without ever making much difference unless they're willing to make an ferocious slaughter of Afghans, like the Soviets or the Mongols. We would've made a better and more respectful impression on them and Islam at large, if we had nuked Khandahar within 48 hours of 9-11.

    Better instead to be a nation of small farmers and craftsman and tradespeople.
    Last edited by Avvakum; March 19th, 2014 at 00:06.
    "God's an old hand at miracles, he brings us from nonexistence to life. And surely he will resurrect all human flesh on the last day in the twinkling of an eye. But who can comprehend this? For God is this: he creates the new and renews the old. Glory be to him in all things!" Archpriest Avvakum

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


    U.S. Force In Afghanistan May Be Cut To Less Than 10,000 Troops

    April 21, 2014

    The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan may drop well below 10,000 - the minimum demanded by the U.S. military to train Afghan forces - as the longest war in American history winds down, Obama administration officials briefed on the matter say.

    Since Afghanistan's general election on April 5, White House, State Department and Pentagon officials have resumed discussions on how many American troops should remain after the current U.S.-led coalition ends its mission this year.

    The decision to consider a small force, possibly less than 5,000 U.S. troops, reflects a belief among White House officials that Afghan security forces have evolved into a robust enough force to contain a still-potent Taliban-led insurgency. The small U.S. force that would remain could focus on counter-terrorism or training operations.

    That belief, the officials say, is based partly on Afghanistan's surprisingly smooth election, which has won international praise for its high turnout, estimated at 60 percent of 12 million eligible votes, and the failure of Taliban militants to stage high-profile attacks that day.

    The Obama administration has been looking at options for a possible residual U.S. force for months.

    "The discussion is very much alive," said one U.S. official who asked not to be identified. "They're looking for additional options under 10,000" troops.

    There are now about 33,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from 100,000 in 2011, when troop numbers peaked a decade into a conflict originally intended to deny al Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

    QUESTIONS ABOUT AFGHAN FORCES


    With British and other foreign troops scheduled to depart in lock step with U.S. soldiers, the size of any residual U.S. force could add fuel to a debate in Washington over whether Taliban-led violence will intensify amid the vacuum left by Western forces, as some U.S. military officials expect.

    Military leaders, including American General Joe Dunford, who heads U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has identified 10,000 soldiers as the minimum needed to help train and advise Afghan forces fighting the insurgency, arguing a smaller force would struggle to protect itself.

    During a March visit to Washington, Dunford told lawmakers that without foreign soldiers supporting them, Afghan forces would begin to deteriorate "fairly quickly" in 2015. The Afghan air force, still several years away from being self-sufficient, will require even more assistance, he said.

    A smaller U.S. force could have other unintended consequences, possibly discouraging already skeptical lawmakers from fully funding U.S. commitments to help fund Afghan forces.

    At their current size, Afghan forces will cost at least $5 billion in 2015, a sum far beyond the reach of the Afghan government. The United States has been widely expected to be the largest outside funder for those forces.

    The Taliban and other militants have been weakened by more than 12 years of Afghan and NATO assaults, but they still can obtain supplies and plan attacks from Afghanistan's remote mountain regions and tribal areas of neighboring Pakistan.

    Some analysts are wary of reducing the U.S. presence to less than 10,000 troops.

    "If the White House opts to keep a lower number of troops, it will put more pressure on the Afghan forces and run the risk of squandering their recent progress against the Taliban," said Lisa Curtis, a former CIA analyst and State Department official now with the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank in Washington.

    A U.S. force significantly below 10,000 might focus almost exclusively on counter-terrorism, tracking militants affiliated with a greatly weakened but resilient al Qaeda insurgency based on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, officials said.

    Debate over the size of a residual U.S. force follows the failure of the U.S. and Afghan governments to finalize a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to authorize a U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, the deadline for U.S. and NATO troops to conclude their fight against the Taliban.

    "The longer we go without a BSA, the more challenging it will be to plan and execute any U.S. mission," said Laura Lucas Magnuson, a White House spokeswoman. "Furthermore, the longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and ambition."

    Results of the recent presidential election may not be known for weeks, or months if runoffs take place. But leading candidates have said they will sign the agreement, which has been on hold because of reservations from current Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    In late February, Obama announced that the United States might seek to sign the deal with Karzai's successor and possibly keep troops there after 2014 to train and advise Afghan forces and pursue al Qaeda militants.

    Some U.S. officials believe Afghan forces will require substantial, hands-on support from foreign troops, in addition to help from the United States.

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W

    Breaking News:

    Afghanistan will sign an agreement to keep about 10k US troops there after the deadline Obama set.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W

    US adviser: Afghanistan to sign troop deal Tuesday

    By RAHIM FAIEZ and AMIR SHAH, Associated Press | September 29, 2014 | Updated: September 29, 2014 8:10am



    • Photo By Rahmat Gul/AP
      Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, left, is sworn in by with Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi, during his inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday Sept. 29, 2014. He replaces Hamid Karzai in the country's first democratic transfer of power since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban.









    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A senior adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that Afghanistan will sign a deal Tuesday to allow American soldiers to remain in the country past the end of the year.


    John Podesta, speaking to a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, said he didn't know if newly inaugurated President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai would be the official signing the deal for Afghanistan.


    Podesta said he would sign it on behalf of the U.S.



    The deal will allow about 10,000 American troops to stay in the country after the international combat mission ends on Dec. 31.


    The announcement comes after Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in Monday as Afghanistan's new president, replacing Hamid Karzai in the country's first democratic transfer of power after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban.


    Moments after Ghani Ahmadzai took the oath, he swore in his election challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, as chief executive, fulfilling a political pledge he had taken to share power and defuse election tensions that had threatened to spark violence between the country's north and south.


    In his first speech, Ghani Ahmadzai called on the Taliban and other militants to join the country's political process and lay down their weapons. However, extremist violence Monday killed at least 12 civilians and police officers as foreign forces prepare to withdraw from the country at the end of the year.


    "We are tired of war," Ghani Ahmadzai said in a televised address. "Our message is peace, (but) this doesn't mean we are weak."


    U.S. officials previously had said they expected Ghani Ahmadzai or an official in his government to sign the security agreement with the U.S. shortly after his inauguration. Both Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah said during their campaigns they would sign the deal.
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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W

    US adviser: Afghanistan to sign troop deal Tuesday

    By RAHIM FAIEZ and AMIR SHAH, Associated Press | September 29, 2014 | Updated: September 29, 2014 8:10am



    • Photo By Rahmat Gul/AP
      Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, left, is sworn in by with Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi, during his inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday Sept. 29, 2014. He replaces Hamid Karzai in the country's first democratic transfer of power since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban.









    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A senior adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that Afghanistan will sign a deal Tuesday to allow American soldiers to remain in the country past the end of the year.


    John Podesta, speaking to a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, said he didn't know if newly inaugurated President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai would be the official signing the deal for Afghanistan.


    Podesta said he would sign it on behalf of the U.S.



    The deal will allow about 10,000 American troops to stay in the country after the international combat mission ends on Dec. 31.


    The announcement comes after Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in Monday as Afghanistan's new president, replacing Hamid Karzai in the country's first democratic transfer of power after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban.


    Moments after Ghani Ahmadzai took the oath, he swore in his election challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, as chief executive, fulfilling a political pledge he had taken to share power and defuse election tensions that had threatened to spark violence between the country's north and south.


    In his first speech, Ghani Ahmadzai called on the Taliban and other militants to join the country's political process and lay down their weapons. However, extremist violence Monday killed at least 12 civilians and police officers as foreign forces prepare to withdraw from the country at the end of the year.


    "We are tired of war," Ghani Ahmadzai said in a televised address. "Our message is peace, (but) this doesn't mean we are weak."


    U.S. officials previously had said they expected Ghani Ahmadzai or an official in his government to sign the security agreement with the U.S. shortly after his inauguration. Both Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah said during their campaigns they would sign the deal.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W

    This was my brother's base when he was deployed there...


    The Resurgence Of The Taliban: Extremist Group Release Video Of Fighters Parading In Cars Around Recently Captured Former US Military Base In Afghanistan

    March 27, 2015

    The Taliban have reportedly captured an former US military base in the western Afghan province of Farah.

    The news was released through a 16 minute video, in which dozens of Taliban fighters are shown being driven into the fortified base.

    The white flag of the Taliban is also shown being unfurled by one of the militants whilst another scene shows one of the group's leaders making a lengthy speech in Pashto.


    The white flags of the Taliban can be seen being unfurled over the buildings as the fighters swarm into the former US military base.


    A senior Taliban leader is shown making a speech, declaring that the military base had been liberated by the Taliban.

    The video shows footage of well-built fortitications of the former US base, once used to tackle the local trade in heroin in Farah province.

    The Taliban's exaggerated report ignores the fact that the base had not been used by NATO forces for over a year. American troops have not been operating from Bakwa base since March 2013.

    Multiple convoys of white estate cars are shown being driven into the compound, parking inside the fort walls.

    Fighters dressed in traditional Afghan dress and armed with machine guns can be seen getting out of the cars and gathering outside Bakwa district's headquarters building.


    Multiple convoys of white estate cars are shown being driven into the compound, parking inside the fort walls.


    The low quality footage was recently released in Pashto by al-Emarah media, the Taliban's official multimedia branch.


    The desert province, situated near the Iranian border, has become a growing area for Taliban re-resurgence. The base was reportedly captured after a lengthy siege.


    Growing fears remain that the Taliban are developing Farah province into their new hub for launching greater attacks on cities like Kabul.

    The low quality footage was poorly produced by al-Emarah media, the Taliban's official multimedia branch.

    According to a short statement released along with the video, Bakwa base was captured by the Taliban after a prolonged siege.

    The media branch also wrote: 'It is hoped that this release brings joy of our viewers.' Overexcited Taliban supporters on social media have already insisted that the radical group of jihadis will re-take Kabul soon.


    Farah is predominantly a desert province, with only a small local population. It was an important base for NATO troops due to its strategic location on the main highway between Herat and Kandahar.


    Fighters dressed in traditional Afghan dress and armed with machine guns, can be seen standing outside the base's headquarters

    The news comes after Farid Bakhtawar, head of Farah's provincial council told local media about the threat posed by the Taliban in Farah province.

    'The district of Bakwa is the center for weapons, dealing drugs, and the Taliban's main base in the west zone.'

    Growing fears remain that the Taliban are developing Farah province into their new hub for launching greater attacks on cities like Kabul.

    Farah is predominantly a desert province, with only a small local population. It was an important base for NATO forces after the 2001 invasion due its strategic location on the main highway between Herat and Kandahar.

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W

    Unless we turn something over, it should be flattened after we've left.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W

    It's ok. We can still flatten it.

    We know the coords, we know the insides. We know how to obliterate things.

    I also know we won't do it. Obama's kin are there.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


    Taliban Capture Key Helmand District Of Musa Qala

    August 26, 2015

    Taliban fighters have seized control of a strategically-important district headquarters in Afghanistan's Helmand province despite American air strikes.

    Musa Qala, once a key Nato position, is the second town in northern Helmand to fall to the Taliban in recent weeks.

    The group also captured Nawzad after intensifying attacks in the region.

    Musa Qala saw some of the fiercest clashes between Western forces and the Taliban following the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

    Three US air strikes on Saturday around Musa Qala reportedly killed up to 40 Taliban fighters but the militants regrouped to push Afghan ground forces back.

    District governor Mohamad Sharif said he fled the district on Wednesday morning as the Taliban attacked.

    "We left the district early in the morning because the Taliban were attacking from all sides," he told Reuters.

    "We had asked for reinforcements for days but none arrived and this was what happened."

    In southern Helmand, also on Wednesday, two Nato soldiers were killed when two men in Afghan military uniforms opened fire on a vehicle at a military base.

    The nationalities of the victims are not known.

    Key strategic position

    Musa Qala was once a Taliban stronghold and centre of the country's opium trade, but the defection of a local Taliban commander, Mullah Salaam, helped turn the tide in favour of Western forces.

    The town was recaptured in December 2007 after fierce fighting between the Taliban and Nato and Afghan forces and became a vital strategic position.

    UK forces led the counter-insurgency operations in Helmand during the protracted conflict with the Taliban and lost more than 400 soldiers there in the process.

    Now the Taliban have recaptured the key parts of the province, in the first summer fighting season since foreign troops formally stepped back from combat roles in the country.

    Violence has increased sharply across Afghanistan since most foreign forces withdrew in December, leaving only a small contingent of about 12,000 Nato troops to train Afghan forces.

    The Taliban have extended their influence in Helmand into isolated towns in the north of the province, where Afghan security forces are vulnerable to attack.

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


    Russia Likely To Give Military Assistance To Afghanistan: Interfax

    September 8, 2015

    Russia expects to grant military assistance to Afghanistan that could include helicopters, Interfax news agency quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy as saying on Tuesday.

    Zamir Kabulov, Putin's special envoy for Afghanistan and a Russian foreign ministry official, was quoted as saying that Russian officials were looking into the matter now and would discuss it with their Afghan counterparts soon.

    "We expect that the result with be positive," Kabulov was quoted as saying.

    Moscow fears instability in Afghanistan could rise following the pullout of NATO troops and spill over into the ex-Soviet Central Asia, threatening Russia's own southern borders.

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


    Kabul Suicide Bombing Kills 12, Including 3 Americans

    August 22, 2015

    Three foreigners working for the American-led military coalition were among 12 people killed Saturday when their vehicle was targeted by a suicide car bomber, according to Afghan and American military accounts.

    The three foreign victims were Americans working for DynCorp International, a military contractor, according to a company official in Kabul, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

    It was believed to be the worst loss of American life in a single episode this year in Afghanistan, since American forces have mostly withdrawn, leaving less than 10,000 soldiers.

    The blast took place in the center of Kabul, the latest in a series of major bombings in recent weeks, but there was no immediate word on who was responsible.

    The attack came late in the afternoon when convoys often go through downtown Kabul taking foreign and Afghan workers, as well as international military personnel, to their homes or barracks. A witness at the scene, Abdul Rahman Arif, 38, his hands and clothing covered in blood from carrying victims to ambulances, said he saw at least three bodies after the blast, and four severely wounded occupants of the coalition vehicle, as well as many children wounded in a nearby playground.

    A six-story office building across the street from the blast had all of its windows broken, with many inside wounded from broken glass. Personnel at the nearby Shinozada Hospital were among those wounded by glass.

    Witnesses said the bomber had been in a Toyota Corolla and appeared to have targeted a sport utility vehicle full of foreigners wearing civilian clothes but heavily armed.

    Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for the American-led military coalition here, said three civilian contractors working for the coalition were killed; one died immediately and two died later from their wounds. He did not disclose their nationalities or jobs.

    A spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, Mohammad Ismail Kawosi, said the death toll was 12 with 67 wounded. But the Kabul police chief, Abdul Rahman Rahmani, said in an interview at the scene that the casualty toll, which included women and children, was likely to rise because of all the injuries.

    Around the blast site bystanders expressed anger at the Afghan government and its international coalition partners, including the United States. “This government is nothing but a total failure,” Mr. Arif said.

    Many also criticized the Afghan government’s security forces for rescuing the foreign victims in the sport utility vehicle before wounded Afghans. A woman was heard screaming at a policeman, “Have you lost your pride and respect, giving priority to foreigners while Afghans are lying dead?”

    Those reactions echoed expressions of anger when three major bombings took place in a 24-hour period two weeks ago in Kabul, killing scores. Many blamed the attacks on their coalition government’s internal bickering — it has yet to appoint a permanent defense minister after 11 months in office.

    Among the dead were at least two women, and a child could be heard screaming, “Mommy, Daddy, help me.”

    The bombing appeared to catch the Taliban by surprise, as did some of the attacks two weeks earlier, and a spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, denied that the insurgents had anything to do with the attack.

    That may reflect confusion within the insurgents’ ranks, in the wake of a struggle over who would succeed Mullah Mouhammad Omar, the longtime Taliban leader whose death in 2013 was disclosed only in the past month. In addition, Jalaluddin Haqqani, the leader of the hard-line Haqqani Network faction of the Taliban, recently has been reported to have died last year. That group has been responsible for many of the deadliest attacks in Kabul.

    Bombings in Kabul, with its heavy security, have been relatively infrequent, typically one a month of any significance, so the recent attacks are unusual. Some analysts have speculated that the insurgents are trying to prove their leadership problems have not incapacitated them.

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


    U.S. Special Operations Base Attacked in Kabul

    Three American personnel wounded in assault that follows explosions targeting Afghan police academy, Afghan army compound

    August 7, 2015

    Militants attacked a U.S. Special Operations forces base on Friday night, hours after deadly explosions targeted a Kabul police academy and an Afghan army compound, Afghan and foreign officials said.

    An explosion took place outside the headquarters of the U.S. military’s elite special forces in the Afghan capital, triggering a firefight that continued for hours. The base, known as Camp Integrity, is a fortified compound close to Kabul’s airport.

    “There was an attack on Camp Integrity at approximately 10:15 p.m. local time,” said U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. In a statement Saturday, the coalition said that one of its service members and two insurgents were killed in the attack on the camp. A foreign official said several Americans were injured.

    The attack took place hours after a suicide bomber blew himself up among students at an Afghan police academy in Kabul, a senior Afghan security official said. Besides at least 20 fatalities, at least 20 people were wounded.

    The Taliban, who are waging an insurgency against the Afghan government and its foreign allies, said they were behind the attacks on the police academy and on the U.S. base.

    Friday’s violence ended a monthlong lull in the Afghan capital and was shocking even by Kabul’s grim standard. It came at a time of deep divisions within the Taliban’s leadership, following news the group’s founder and leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has been dead for over two years.

    Early in the morning, a truck bomb targeted an Afghan army compound, causing vast damage to residential buildings and a market area in Kabul’s Shah Shaheed neighborhood. At least 15 people were killed and several hundred wounded in the attack, Afghan officials said.

    The bomb went off at around 1 a.m. local time and targeted an Afghan army compound that is close to residential houses and a market area in the neighborhood of Shah Shaheed. Multistoried buildings collapsed, storefronts ripped up and charred cars were scattered. The explosion left a crater several yards deep and as wide as the street, and it shattered the windows of houses far away.

    No one claimed responsibility for the truck bomb.

    Medical workers were assessing the human toll of the attack. The majority of the wounded suffered minor injuries, many of them caused by broken glass. Sayed Zafar Hashemi, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, updated the casualty figures on Friday afternoon, saying 30 children were among the wounded. The ministry of health earlier said as many as 400 people had been injured.

    Hours after the blast, Ahmad Khan was surveying what was left of his shop, located a few hundred yards from the blast site. “My shop is destroyed. I put my lifetime savings into it,” said Mr. Khan, who used to sell spare parts for cars. “What kind of jihad is this?” he asked, waving a Quran that was torn to pieces.

    Kheyal Ahmad, a resident of Shah Shaheed, said his family was sleeping when the explosion blew out the windows of his house. “The explosion woke us all up. It was so close it almost felt like it happened inside our house. The children were crying and we could smell the smoke of the blast,” he said. “There are only ruins in the neighborhood.”

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


    US General Says ISIS Gaining In Afghanistan

    August 13, 2015

    A U.S. Army general says ISIS is making small inroads in Afghanistan and could grow into a more worrisome threat.

    Speaking to Pentagon reporters on Friday from his offices in Kabul, Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner said ISIS is not yet capable of coordinating military operations in more than one part of Afghanistan at a time.

    But he said their capabilities are increasing, while at the same time the militant group has the potential to evolve into what he called "something more serious, more dangerous."

    Shoffner said ISIS' fighters are clashing with the Taliban in areas of Afghanistan where ISIS is encroaching on Taliban territory. He called this a destabilizing development, with Afghan civilians caught in the middle.

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


    Afghan Taliban Storm Ghazni Prison, Free Hundreds

    September 14, 2015

    Taliban insurgents stormed a prison in central Afghanistan on Monday, freeing hundreds of inmates in the largest jailbreak in the country in years.

    The attack began at around 2 a.m. local time, residents and officials said, when a car bomb exploded outside the entrance of the Ghazni city prison.

    The perimeter wall collapsed in the blast, allowing six militants disguised in police uniforms to enter the compound and reach its main building, said Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, the deputy governor of Ghazni province.

    “In the hall they shouted: ‘we are Taliban and we are here to release you guys,’” he said.

    The Afghan Ministry of Interior said there are 355 fugitives, of whom 148 are Taliban or other militants, and that four policemen were killed in the attack. A ministerial delegation is investigating the jailbreak from the prison, which held 436 inmates.

    “Allahu Akbar!” or “God is great!” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said in a Twitter post. He said three of the attackers had died.

    The jailbreak is a major blow to attempts by Afghan forces to stabilize Ghazni, an insecure province just a few hours’ drive from the capital, Kabul. It also raises questions about whether Afghan police are able to effectively secure prisons without the support of international forces.

    Inmates had staged a protest inside the prison hours before the Taliban attack—a possible indication that the escape was coordinated, officials said.

    The unrest prompted Afghan intelligence officers to transfer about 20 high-value Taliban militants to a different location in the hours before the prison break, according to a member of Ghazni’s provincial council.

    Jailbreaks in Afghanistan aren’t new. In 2011—when the American military presence in the country was at its peak—about 500 inmates fled a high-security prison in Kandahar province, the Taliban’s spiritual heartland.

    Since the beginning of this year, Afghan forces have been fighting with only limited support from their U.S. allies, even as the Taliban insurgency remains strong and undiminished.

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    Default Re: Afghanistan Gains Will Be Lost Quickly After Drawdown, US Intelligence Estimate W


    US Marines Return To Afghanistan's Volatile Helmand

    April 29, 2017

    US Marines returned to Afghanistan's volatile Helmand Saturday, where American troops faced heated fighting until NATO's combat mission ended in 2014, as embattled Afghan security forces struggle to beat back the resurgent Taliban.

    The deployment of some 300 Marines to the poppy-growing southern province came one day after the militants announced the launch of their "spring offensive", and as the Trump administration seeks to craft a new strategy in Afghanistan.

    Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson attended a handover ceremony marking the return of the prestigious force, the first Marines in Afghanistan since 2014, an AFP photographer said.

    Part of a regular troop rotation announced in January under the Obama administration, they will arrive in stages, eventually numbering some 300 who will take part in NATO's train, assist and advise mission.

    Helmand for years was the centrepiece of the US and British military intervention in Afghanistan -- only for it to slip deeper into a quagmire of instability.

    "In those days Afghan security forces were tiny and just got started," Brigadier General Roger Turner told AFP. "With the leadership in place now they... are poised to do much better."

    The Taliban effectively control or contest 10 of Helmand's 14 districts, blighted by a huge opium harvest that helps fund the insurgency.

    Around 30,000 people fled fighting in the province in 2016, mostly seeking refuge in provincial capital Lashkar Gah, with the city at times practically besieged.

    The US has some 8,400 troops in Afghanistan with about another 5,000 from NATO allies, mostly taking part in the training mission.

    Pentagon chief Jim Mattis warned of "another tough year" in Afghanistan when he visited Kabul this week as part of the Trump administration's review of Afghan policy. Nicholson has called for a few thousand more troops to help break the "stalemate".

    Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, a retired Afghan general based in Kabul, was optimistic.

    "If the Afghan forces and the US Marines jointly fight the phenomenon of the terrorism in southern Helmand, we will have tangible results," he told AFP.

    But former Marine James Clark, who served twice in Helmand and now writes for military website Task & Purpose, called the deployment "half-measures".

    "What lasting gains can our small military presence accomplish in Afghanistan that we couldn't achieve during the height of the troop surge?" he told AFP.

    - 'Butcher of Kabul' returns -

    The Helmand ceremony came as one of Afghanistan's most notorious warlords, ex-prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, returned to public life Saturday after more than 20 years in exile.

    Hekmatyar, white-bearded and clad in his trademark black turban, called on the Taliban to lay down their weapons and join a "caravan of peace" as he spoke at a rally in Laghman province.

    Known widely as the "Butcher of Kabul", Hekmatyar is chiefly remembered for his role in the bloody civil war of the 1990s, in which he stands accused of killing thousands of people in the capital Kabul. He is set to return there on Sunday.

    His comeback following a landmark peace agreement with President Ashraf Ghani in September has been hugely controversial in Afghanistan, sparking revulsion from human rights groups and residents of the capital.

    Afghanistan has seen intensified Taliban attacks across the country, leaving Afghan forces -- already beset by killings, desertions, and vacuums in leadership and morale -- stretched on multiple fronts and facing soaring casualties.

    Last week the Taliban delivered a stinging blow as militants dressed in Afghan army uniforms slaughtered at least 135 young recruits at a northern base, according to official figures -- though multiple sources say the death toll is much higher.

    The Marines were among the first US forces sent to Afghanistan after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

    Several thousand were deployed in Helmand, the deadliest province for US and British forces, where they engaged in bitter combat with the Taliban insurgency.

    The US is also targeting Islamic State's affiliate in Afghanistan, earlier this month dropping its largest non-nuclear bomb on the jihadist group's hideouts.

    Two US troops were killed Wednesday while fighting IS militants near the blast-site in eastern Nangarhar province in an incident potentially involving friendly fire, the Pentagon has said, adding an investigation has been launched.

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