Today the Department of Defense provided to the Congress the semiannual report, “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” covering events during the period of June 1 to November 30, 2019.
The report was submitted in accordance with requirements from the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, as well as subsequent amendments.
The principal goal of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan remains a durable and inclusive political settlement to the war that protects the United States homeland from terrorist attacks. The Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, leads the effort for a political settlement with the Taliban. The military mission in Afghanistan remains in support of diplomatic efforts to achieve such a political settlement and conduct counterterrorism operations.
During this reporting period, the Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, pursued an agreement with the Taliban until President Donald J. Trump suspended formal negotiations in September 2019, and announced a restart of talks with the Taliban in November.
During this reporting period, United States Forces-Afghanistan and Coalition allies and partners supported the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in a focused military campaign against the Taliban to pave the way for reconciliation and counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaida and the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K). These efforts have helped prevent these groups from exporting violence and the Taliban from seizing any provincial capitals in 2019.
Challenges within the ANDSF such as corruption, attrition and executing logistic planning remain a focus of advisory efforts at all levels. This reporting period, Resolute Support took steps to optimize its advising mission to better align advisors across Afghanistan.
Improved communication between the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior helped minimize violence during Afghanistan’s presidential election and led to successful operations against ISIS-K in Nangahar province. The Afghan Special Security Forces remain the most capable force in the ANDSF and their capabilities continue to grow.
Terrorist and insurgent groups also continue to present a formidable challenge to Afghan, U.S., and coalition forces. ISIS-K, operationally limited to South and Central Asia, maintains the ability to conduct attacks and sought to retain territory in eastern Afghanistan despite pressure from U.S. forces, ANDSF and the Taliban.
The United States remains fully committed to the Resolute Support mission and our Afghan partners, as we work to ensure Afghanistan never again become a safe haven for terrorists.