US, Washington: Yesterday, the United States (US) is deploying more troops in Helmand to prevent Taliban from seizing the Afghan province, a US official confirmed. Last year, Taliban had seized the province of Kunduz but Afghan security forces recaptured it with US assistance.
The deployment, first reported by The Guardian, London, follows media reports that Afghan security forces had failed to prevent the Taliban from increasing their influence in Helmand and “could be routed by the militants.” Col Michael Lawhorn, a spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan, told The New York Times that the deployment “gives extra support and training for the 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army” and would also provide protection for the US Special Operations troops already based in Helmand.
The Times reported, “Afghan forces in Helmand have taken heavy casualties in recent months and have been cut off by the Taliban in many places”. The Afghan government controls only three of Helmand’s 14 districts, including its capital Lashkar Gah. But US Under-Secretary of Defence Mike Andy McCord told a briefing in Washington that this would not affect the US military presence in Afghanistan. “The average troop strength is about 9,700 for 2016 and drops to about 6,200 in 2017,” he said.