Afghanistan situation is 'deteriorating' warns top US intelligence official

Death toll rises to 140 after Taliban gunmen disguised in army uniform attack base in AfghanistanReuters

The situation is going to get worse in Afghanistan, America's top intelligence official has warned.

Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence, added that the deteriorating situation is likely even if the US and its allies increase their troop numbers in the region.

Coats offered the pessimistic assessment at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday (11 May).

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"The political and security situation in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through 2018, even with a modest increase in military assistance by the US and its partners," he said.

"Afghanistan will struggle to curb its dependence on external support until it contains the insurgency or reaches a peace agreement with the Taliban."

US-led forces have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, making it America's longest war yet, but seemingly one with no end in sight.

Coats said that Taliban operations, combat casualties, desertions, poor logistics support and weak leadership are all reasons that Afghan security forces will struggle to cope over the next two years.

"The Taliban is likely to continue to make gains, especially in rural areas," he added.

At the same hearing, General Vincent Stewart, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said unless changes in policy are considered, America risks forfeiting ground it has gained.

"Unless we change something, the situation will continue to deteriorate and we'll lose all the gains that we've invested in over the last several years," he said.

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America currently has roughly 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. However, there has been talk in recent days of expanding that figure by another 5,000.

US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on 11 May, 2017Reuters

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