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11 Jun, 2017 13:12

'Increasing number of Taliban swearing allegiance to Islamic State'

'Increasing number of Taliban swearing allegiance to Islamic State'

The problem Trump will have with Afghanistan regards sending more troops, what kind of troops they are, and whether they have a combat or Special Forces’ role – given that the 15-year US effort hasn’t worked, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof says.

Three US soldiers were killed by an Afghan soldier and another serviceman was wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday in an attack that was claimed by the Taliban, according to the Pentagon.

The Taliban said the attack was from a member of the group which had infiltrated the security forces. An incident of this nature has become known as a ‘green-on-blue’ attack, and has been an increasing threat for Washington’s coalition in Afghanistan.

In March, three American soldiers were wounded by an Afghan soldier at a base in Helmand Province.

RT: The Taliban claimed to have infiltrated the Afghan Army. Is this likely and how big a problem does it pose?

Michael Maloof: Yes, it is. It has been for quite some time now. It clearly demonstrates two things. Number one, the Taliban is on the rise and especially in this one area, it is very remote and we have forces out there for training and assisting and they are not backed up by combat troops. Secondly, it also shows that the vetting process that the US is using somehow failed. There should have been something that was picked up on this Taliban commander’s background that could have kicked him out and denied him access to the Afghan Army. So, there appears to be a breakdown and I am sure the Pentagon is going to be investigating that.

The problem that is emerging here is what is Donald Trump going to do in terms of putting there more troops, what kind of troops, would they have a combat role, would they have only a Special Forces’ role? And it looks like the effort that we have been doing for 15 years still hasn’t worked. We had 100,000 there, and that would add to 8,500, and if they put in another 3,000 to 8,000, it is almost meaningless. We lost focus, we don’t have a policy, we don’t have a strategy and there is no strategic thinking going into this whatsoever. I am concerned about it. And talking to people in recent days, it looks like it ultimately is going to require a political resolution and I think it is going to deal with people and countries in the region. It is their problem, Afghanistan is their problem. It should not be ours.

RT: If the Taliban can infiltrate the Afghan forces, isn’t it strange that it took so long to decide and rethink what the US is doing in Afghanistan?

MM: Afghanistan is known as the forgotten war, obviously, and the Taliban has shown not only increasing strength. We had them on the run and then we got diverted in 2003 when George Bush ordered 100,000 combat troops into Iraq, of all places. And we lost focus. And the Taliban was allowed to come back. And then we… changed the mission. And as a consequence, the Taliban filled the military and the political void. It is very clear now that if the US were to leave altogether, Kabul, the capital, would fall within three days. That is what I have been told by the US intelligence people there. It is a very dire situation. Trump has a real headache to deal with here. And this comes at a time when we are dealing with other issues in the area and the increase of the Taliban also joining ISIS. ISIS is rising as well in Afghanistan and the increasing number of Taliban commanders are swearing allegiance to ISIS.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.