Big Changes Needed in Afghanistan, Intel Heads Say

The US risks losing ground it has carefully gained in Afghanistan if significant changes are not made in the strategy there, top intelligence leaders told Congress Thursday. “The political and security situation in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through 2018, even with a modest increase in military assistance by the United States and its partners,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the committee, “We have to do something very different than what we’ve been doing in the past.” Stewart visited Afghanistan “six weeks ago,” he said. And while “the Taliban failed to meet any of their strategic objectives” in the last fighting season, Afghan national forces also “did not meet their force generation objectives.” The resulting stalemate, “if left unchecked, will deteriorate in favor of the belligerents,” Stewart said. He suggested more US or NATO forces are needed to provide “advising capability at lower levels.”