Defense Secretary Warns of Another ‘Hard Year’ as ISIS Grows in Afghanistan

Growing ISIS Presence Only Adds to Problems

Visiting Afghanistan today, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter echoed recent gloomy reports from the Pentagon on the ongoing occupation of the nation, adding that he anticipates another “hard year” in 2016 as the Taliban continues to seize territory and the Afghan security forces also struggle to cope with a growing ISIS presence.

2015 was a definite struggle, despite the Pentagon touting the ability of the Afghan military to at the very least stand its ground against the Taliban, the Afghan forces have faced soaring casualties and have lost ground on many fronts, even though the Taliban is engaged in an internal leadership battle.

And that’s just part of the problem, as the Afghan government was just barely holding its own against the Taliban, only now to also face an “operationally active” ISIS affiliate which has carved out territory of its own around Jalalabad.

Though another “hard year” is hardly news in Afghanistan 15 years into the occupation, it is unusual for a Pentagon chief to admit as much, as historically US officials have believed they were on the cusp of some decisive turnaround in the war, one that’s simply never come.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of