According to US and Afghan officials, the current Taliban strength is at least 60,000, NBC News reports. This figure is three times higher than the previous estimation accorindg to which the movement strength was 20,000 in 2014.
“As Kabul reels from a deadly wave of terror attacks, the numbers tell the tale. The percentage of the Afghan population under the control of the central government has slipped, the land mass under the control of coalition forces is shrinking, and the number of Taliban fighters may have doubled in the past four years.
In 2014, U.S. officials told NBC News that the number of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan was about 20,000. Four years later, one U.S. defense official said the current Taliban strength is at least 60,000. Another senior U.S. official said 60,000 “passes the sniff test,” while a third official said 60,000 is “a place to start.
An Afghan official told NBC News earlier this month that the Afghan estimate of Taliban strength is also 60,000. That marks a significant increase from the estimate of 35,000 that Afghanistan’s TOLOnews attributed to an Afghan defense official in 2011.“
NBC News continued saying that the US military does not release its estimation publicly because it just does not know for sure how much members the Taliban does have now.
“The U.S. military does not release official numbers on how many Taliban are in Afghanistan. One U.S official called such estimates a “fool’s errand” because the fighters often change their allegiance from one terror group to another.
“It’s a wildly varying planning figure,” the official said, explaining the U.S. military needs a marker to plan to fight but is hopeful many fighters are not ideological and will eventually lay down their arms and “find a reason to identify with Afghanistan nationalism and the larger good.”
Part of the reason for the apparent increase in Taliban strength is integration between the Taliban and a separate group of Islamist militants, the Haqqani network. According to the Pentagon’s June 2017 Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan report, “Haqqani and Taliban integration has become so robust that many observers no longer look at them as separate entities, but as factions within the same group.””
The growing influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan clearly shows a collapse of the US strategy in the war-torn country. Washington has not been able to consolidate its influence there and to establish a powerful pro-US regime there.