The Taliban in Afghanistan controls more territory than what the US government estimates and their number is much larger than the official count, a New York Time report said on Sunday, saying American officials were providing inflated assessments that is contrary to the facts.
Several top officials from the Trump administration have spoken of progress in the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, crediting the new South Asia strategy that President Trump introduced last year, saying the situation is improving and putting Taliban under pressure.
But the report claimed the American officials routinely provide inflated assessments of progress in the Afghan conflict on which the United States has so far spent $840 billion and lost more than 2,200 soldiers.
According to the report, the American officials were under intense pressure to show the Taliban are losing and the situation is improving in Afghanistan to justify the war to the American taxpayers.
Citing the examples of excessive figures, the report claimed that Taliban now control more Afghan territory than at any time since the war began, contrary to the US government claims.
The US military estimates that the Afghan government “controls or influence” 56 percent of the country but, the report said, in many districts the Afghan controls only the district headquarters and military barracks and the rest of the areas are under Taliban control.
On the total number of the Afghan security forces, the report said the official numbers claim that Afghan security forces outnumber the Taliban by 10 to 1, but some Afghan officials say that a third of their soldiers and police officers are “ghosts”, who have already left but their names were still being showed on payrolls.
A more significant discrepancy in the official figure, according to the report, is about the total number of Taliban insurgent. An official US report said that there were an estimated 25,000 to 35,000 Taliban active in 2017. The Afghan government says that it killed 13,600 and arrested more than 2,000 last year.
However, the NYT report cited an official US report that said in January this year that insurgent numbered at least 60,000 and the Afghan officials’ estimates put the number at more than 77,000.
The NYT also contested the official claim that the coalition has improved the living standard of the Afghan people.
In 2002, American officials said that 1,600 Afghan mothers died for every 100,000 live births and the USAID said that by 2010 that number has fallen to 327.
But, the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Grouped refer to a study that indicates that 1,575 women died out of 100,000 births in 2010. That means that nearly one in a 100 Afghan women will die giving birth, which is contrary to the US estimates of 24 in 100,000.
USAID points to a similarly drastic improvement in life expectancy, to 63 years in 2010, up from 41 years in 2002. But the figures were adjusted to ignore a high death rate in early childhood, which skewed results.