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1 May, 2019 10:06

‘Even less info for taxpayers’: US drops key metric on Western-backed govt control of Afghanistan

‘Even less info for taxpayers’: US drops key metric on Western-backed govt control of Afghanistan

A US government watchdog said it became even harder to gauge whether Washington’s mission in Afghanistan is successful or not after the military stopped measuring how much territory is controlled by Western-backed forces.

The US-led NATO mission Resolute Support stopped measuring how much of the nation’s territory is controlled by the Western-backed government in Kabul, according to the US special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), John Sopko wrote in a quarterly report.

The mission explained its decision to drop the metric by claiming that it was “of limited decision-making value” to its commander. The report further noted that “no other product or forum through district-level control data is communicated to the command.”

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Sopko, whose job is to oversee the way the US spends money on its military presence in Afghanistan, told Reuters that the command’s move is another blow to the already diminished transparency of Washington’s policies in the country.

This much is clear: There’s even less information for American taxpayers to gauge whether their investment in Afghanistan is a success, or something else.

According to SIGAR’s previous report, as of October, the government in Kabul controlled only 53.8 percent of the districts, while the rest was contested by the Taliban and other insurgent groups. This was a significant drop from late-2015 when Western-backed forces controlled 72 percent of the territory.

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The situation on the ground remains difficult, as Afghanistan has “experienced heightened insecurity” in recent months, despite the US holding talks with the Taliban in Qatar, according to Tuesday’s report.

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