A recent Washington Post article suggests that the Taliban has endured the recent offensive by NATO and U.S. forces with its numerical strength intact (Slobodan Lekic, “Taliban Strength Unaffected by Allied Surge,” Washington Post, 6 January 2011).
“A NATO official said this week that the alliance estimates current number of insurgent fighters at up to 25,000, confirming figures provided earlier by several military officers and diplomats.” That number is the same as it was last year, “before an additional 40,000 U.S. and allied troops, and before the alliance launched a massive campaign to restore government control in Helmand province and around the city of Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan.”
NATO and U.S. military commanders claim to be unconcerned about the Taliban’s continued numerical strength, insisting that the coalition forces “are making real progress throughout the country. They say hundreds of Taliban have been killed, and others forced to abandon the movement’s strongholds in southern and eastern provinces.”
However, as the article notes, other voices caution against such optimism, arguing that the Taliban has growing support among the Afghani population, which is tired of nine years of war and increasingly perceives foreign troops as occupying forces.