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2012 World News: Afghanistan

As U.S. Continues to Withdraw Troops, Taliban Attacks Reveal Nation's Vulnerability



Members of the Taliban

The Taliban

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As the U.S. continued to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2012, the Taliban launched a series of suicide bombings and attacks on coalition and government targets throughout the country, illustrating that the group remains a threat to government officials and civilians alike. The ongoing attacks raised concerns that Afghan security forces will be ill-equipped to maintain order once allied combat troops leave the country. Those fears were reinforced in early December when the Pentagon released a report that said only one of the 23 Afghan National Army brigades is capable of functioning without assistance from U.S. forcers. In addition, the report said, "The Taliban-led insurgency remains adaptive and determined, and retains the capability to emplace substantial numbers of I.E.D.s and to conduct isolated high-profile attacks."

U.S. Meets Deadlines for Troop Withdrawal

In April, the U.S. took a significant step toward transferring military control to Afghanistan when it gave Afghan troops control over special operations missions, which include the controversial nighttime attacks on suspected insurgents that have caused scores of civilian casualties. A week later, the the Haqqani network, a militant group allied with the Taliban, launched seven synchronized attacks on Parliament and the Green Zone in Kabul and in three provinces (Nangarhar, Paktia, and Logar). The assaults tested the Afghan military's defensive abilities and highlighted the network's increasing sophistication and threat. In September, the U.S. withdrew the last of the remaining combat troops who were deployed to Afghanistan during the surge of 2009. The U.S. still plans to have all remaining combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, when Afghan officials will assume security over the country. However, the U.S. announced in November that a counterterrorism force would stay in Afghanistan after 2014 in an advisory and training role.

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