An Afghan National Army soldier fires an artillery shell in an anti-Taliban campaign in Farah province. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi / AFP / Getty Images

Insurgents have gained ground in Afghanistan over the last few months, according to an update from Navy Capt. Tom Gresback that comes as Kabul has been shaken by a series of deadly attacks.

By the numbers: Afghanistan’s government controls about 56% of the country’s 407 districts, while 30% are contested and 14% controlled by insurgents. As of a November update the Afghan government controlled 64% and insurgents 10%. Gresback's update came as a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report was released.


  • The U.S. has more than 14,000 troops in Afghanistan in war's 16th year.
  • The number of Taliban forces in Afghanistan has increased from 20,000 in 2014 to about 60,000 this year, NBC News reports, citing U.S. officials. The U.S. does not release numbers on how many Taliban are in the country.
  • Trump factor: Trump's Afghanistan strategy doesn't appear to have dramatically changed the tide of the 16-year-old war, though a U.S. official told NBC News’ Courtney Kube there is "no indication at all that the Taliban are growing or strengthening."

1 reversal: The Pentagon briefly issued an order that prevented SIGAR from sharing this information with the public, but reversed that order, blaming “human error.” Information about the size, attrition and performance of the Afghan forces are still unavailable, per the AP.

Go deeper: Trump’s plan in Afghanistan

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 32,471,119 — Total deaths: 987,593 — Total recoveries: 22,374,557Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 7,032,524 — Total deaths: 203,657 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

Trump prepares to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court replacement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University via Reuters

President Trump is preparing to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, a favorite of both the social conservative base and Republican elected officials, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Barrett would push the already conservative court further and harder to the right, for decades to come, on the most important issues in American politics — from abortion to the limits of presidential power. If confirmed, she would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court.

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