The head of US intelligence agencies offered a pessimistic assessment Thursday of the security situation in Afghanistan, where the US government is planning to send more troops to combat resurgent Islamic extremists.
"The political and security situation in Afghanistan will also almost certainly deteriorate through 2018, even with a modest increase in the military assistance by the US and its partners," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"Afghanistan will struggle to curb its dependence on external support until it contains the insurgency or reaches a peace agreement with the Taliban," Coats told lawmakers in presenting an annual assessment of threats to US national security.
US-led forces have been fighting in Afghanistan for almost 16 years, making it America's longest war, yet the situation there remains a stalemate.
General Vincent Stewart, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said if the situation was not addressed, the US-led alliance risked losing the fragile gains it had made during the protracted conflict.
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