US commander for the Afghan War Gen. John Campbell today told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he has presented “options” to President Obama on backing away from the previous plan to drawdown US ground troops in Afghanistan from 10,000 to 1,000 after 2016, keeping more troops in the area for even longer.
Gen. Campbell cited “conditions on the ground,” including a growing ISIS presence in Afghanistan and an upsurge in violence nationwide. He did not detail exactly how many troops he was recommending in the new plan, but it was clear it was more.
Campbell went on to say that many “disaffected” Taliban had joined ISIS, and that there were now 1,000 to 3,000 ISIS active in Afghanistan, and that their growth in the country has become a “top priority” for the war in the country.
That’s a huge amount of growth for ISIS, which wasn’t even really believed to be operational in Afghanistan yet just a few months prior, and is now a formidable force in its own right.
He went on to discuss the recent loss of the northern city of Kunduz to the Taliban, saying both the Afghan government and the US-led coalition “were surprised” when the Taliban was able to overrun the important city.