The US military has stopped tracking the amount of territory controlled or influenced by the Afghan government and armed fighters, a US watchdog said on Tuesday, one of the last remaining public metrics that tracked the worsening security situation in the war-torn country.
The move comes as United States and Taliban officials held several rounds of talks, the latest of which began on Wednesday in Doha, the Qatari capital, according to a Taliban spokesman.
The Taliban announced the start of a spring offensive in early April. Even before the announcement, combat had intensified across Afghanistan in recent weeks and hundreds of Afghan troops and civilians have been killed.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a report published late Tuesday night that the US military had told the watchdog it was no longer tracking the level of control or influence the Afghan government and fighters had over districts in the country.
The NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan had told SIGAR that the assessments were “of limited decision-making value to the (RS) Commander.”
Colonel David Butler, spokesman for US Forces in Afghanistan, said that while Resolute Support was no longer doing the analyses, the intelligence community did its own classified assessment of districts controlled by the government and the Taliban.
He did not speculate on whether the intelligence community analyses would continue or not.
“This much is clear: There’s even less information for American taxpayers to gauge whether their investment in Afghanistan is a success, or something else,” John Sopko, the head of SIGAR, told Reuters news agency.