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Tipsheet

US Continues "Secret War" in Afghanistan

The United States may have officially ended the war in Afghanistan in late December, but our remaining troops are carrying out an increasing number of night raids against the Taliban and al Qaeda, according to a New York Times report.

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The New York Times reports that the increased raids are partially the result of intelligence seized in October of last year, when US and Afghan commandos came upon a laptop computer with files detailing terror operations in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Military officials tell the paper that the information in the files could be as significant as what was found on a computer in Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound after the terror leader was killed by Navy SEALs in 2011.

The officials also said that another factor playing a role in the increased raids was loosened restrictions on nighttime operations put in place by the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani. Ghani has previously called for a slower withdrawal of US troops from his country. Current plans call for the US to go from about 10,800 troops there now to 5,500 by the end of this year.

According to the terms of a security agreement with the Afghan government, our remaining troops are there to serve in an advisory role. But that’s not what’s happening on the ground, U.S. and Afghan officials told the Times. In reality, U.S. troops are “taking a lead role” in the counterterror raids.

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“It’s all in the shadows now,” a former Afghan security official told the Times. “The official war for the Americans — the part of the war that you could go see — that’s over. It’s only the secret war that’s still going. But it’s going hard.”

News of the U.S. military’s “secret war” comes on the heels of Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that he wants more flexibility in how quickly troops withdraw from the country and where he can position them.

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