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Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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The United States, partner countries, and the Afghan government are attempting to reverse recent gains made by the resilient Taliban-led insurgency since the December 2014 transition to a smaller international mission consisting primarily of training and advising the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces ANDSF. The Afghan government has come under increasing domestic criticism not only for the security situation but for its internal divisions. In September 2014, the United States brokered a compromise to address a dispute over the 2014 presidential election, but a September 2016 deadline approaches for resolving remaining issues such as election reform and whether the Chief Executive Officer CEO position created under the compromise might become a prime ministership in a restructured government.The number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which peaked at about 100,000 in June 2011, stands at about 9,800, of which most are assigned to the 13,000-person NATO-led Resolute Support Mission that trains, assists, and advises the ANDSF. About 2,000 of the U.S. contingent are involved in combat against Al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups, including the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State organization ISIL-Khorasan, under Operation Freedoms Sentinel. Amid assessments that the ANDSF is having difficulty preventing insurgent gainsexemplified by the Taliban capture of the city of Konduz in late September 2015 and its major gains in Helmand ProvincePresident Obama announced on October 15, 2015, that the U.S. force there would remain at its current size through almost all of 2016, and fall to 5,500 by the end of the year. That is a significantly larger than the force of about 1,000 personnel that was announced previously, and, there is reported consideration within the Administration to further postpone or even cancel the reduction to 5,500.

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