Watchdog: U.S. Combat Mission in Afghanistan Continues Despite Obama Claims

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The U.S. military fighting the war in Afghanistan, now in its 15th year, has been drawn into combat against a resilient Taliban a year after President Obama said American troops had ceased their combat mission in the country, reports a watchdog agency appointed by Congress.

Since President Obama declared an end to the combat mission on Dec. 31, 2014, security conditions have deteriorated, the Taliban’s reach in Afghanistan is greater than at any point since 2001, and the performance and capabilities of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have been deemed less than desirable, notes the watchdog known as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko.

Earlier this year, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook was hesistant to say that the U.S. military had been engaged in combat operations after one soldier was killed and two others wounded while fighting the Taliban, eventually saying their predicament constituted a “combat situation.”

In its latest quarterly report to lawmakers, SIGAR reveals that during the reporting period of Oct. 1 thru Dec. 31, 2015, “Afghanistan proved even more dangerous than it was a year ago.”

“The Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since 2001. Vicious and repeated attacks in [Afghan capital] Kabul this quarter shook confidence in the national-unity government,” reports Sopko. “A year after the Coalition handed responsibility for Afghan security to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), American and British forces were compelled on several occasions to support ANDSF troops in combat against the Taliban.”
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