afghanistan is in a state of ferment. Casualties for the U.S. and their allies are mounting and the U.S. Central Command will be wondering how to tackle this problem. One of the problems American forces face is death at the hands of 'friendly' troops.

The enemy resides within and effectively means that the campaign against the Taliban and ISIS is stalled. Yesterday at the northern base at Camp Shaheen close to Mazar-e-Sharif, an insider shot and injured seven soldiers.

This comes close on the heels of the death of three soldiers at the hands of another Afghan soldier in the BoraBora mountains.

The Taliban claimed the attack was engineered by them. The situation is serious and undermines the American war on terror groups. General Jim Mattis the Secretary of Defense will have to think of a way out of this scenario where insiders attack American soldiers.

Battle in Afghanistan

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2002 and quickly defeated the Taliban. The Americans did not pursue their victory though, as George Bush shifted the focus to Iraq. Afghanistan became a secondary theater as George Bush decided Saddam was the bigger enemy. This was a disaster as remnants of the Taliban got a chance to regroup.

Supported by Pakistan who gave sanctuary to terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar, theTaliban regrouped.

Matters were compounded by the decision of President Obama to withdraw the bulk of the U.S. forces from Afghanistan and retain only a handful of troops as advisors. This was a godsend for the Taliban who re-established their control over large areas of the landlocked country.

General Mattis

President Trump has inherited a worsening situation.

He has given Gen Mattis a free hand to tackle the Taliban. The U.S. army has now been in Afghanistan for 15 years and the results are pretty poor. To a military analyst, it is clear that part of the problem lies in the lack of clarity about the role of the Taliban. The U.S. administration still nurses the hope that a negotiated peace can be worked out with them.

The Americans have a long association with the Taliban which was created by the CIA. This was during the Russian invasion of the country. A movie "Rocky" with Sylvester Stallone even had a line dedicating it to "our friends the mujahedin".

Mattis and Trump

Much water has flown down the river since then. The Taliban is back and it will require all the skills of General Mattis to win this battle. Luckily he has a commander in chief in Donald Trump who has clear priorities. He has decentralized decision making and Mattis has a free hand. The elusive victory may still come.