Throughout 17 years of occupation in Afghanistan, the underlying justification for the global war of terror has been that Afghanistan, in particular, must never again be allowed to become a “safe haven” for terrorist organizations. Except for that it is.
Analysts have for months been warning that parts of Afghanistan are already effectively safe havens again, reflective of the vast amounts of territory lost by the US-backed Afghan military. With US officials projecting more losses in 2018, this is only going to get worse.
Which has defense and intelligence officials in the US preparing for what is the effective loss of the Afghan War, and preparing to deal with the reality of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban setting up shop in these lost territories for training and planning.
US options are even narrower than usual in this case, because while the US would normally go to the invade/occupy model to stop such safe havens, that invasion and occupation has already been done, and is failing. The escalation is already in process as well, the latest of many, and it’s failing as well.
In reality, all the US can do is prepare for the consequences of the loss, and the terrorist safe havens that in many cases already exist, and are only going to grow in the months and years to come.