A gag order on an report which suggests that James Mattis is losing the war against insurgents in Afghanistan underscores the dangers of allowing him to classify US preparations for war in North Korea and, by this means, hide potential deficits.
The report, which was eventually released, says insurgents now have control of 14% of Afghanistan’s districts. Last year, they had control of 10% of the population.
It is not clear what the relationship between districts and population is or if these terms are being used in a way that is interchangeable. But it could be that the Taliban now has more people under its control one year into Mattis reign as the Pentagon chief despite a troop surge.
Mattis sent 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan in the summer, according to media.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In an abrupt reversal, the U.S. military on Tuesday said it made a mistake when it ordered an independent federal auditor to stop providing the public with information about U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan that help to measure how the 16-year-old stalemated war is going.
Just hours after the report was publicly released, the U.S.-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan issued a statement blaming “human error” for the order, and provided a few segments of the data that has been restricted. The newly released information revealed that 44 percent of Afghanistan is contested or under the control of insurgents.
In response to the release of the report, Navy Capt. Tom Gresback, coalition spokesman, said Tuesday that about 56 percent of the country’s 407 districts are under Afghan government control, 30 percent are contested and 14 percent are under insurgent control.
Late last year, a Pentagon report said the Afghan government has control or influence over 60 percent of the population, while insurgents had control or influence over approximately 10 percent of the population, with the remainder contested.