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

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 12,739,269 — Total deaths: 565,704 — Total recoveries — 7,021,460Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 3,247,782 — Total deaths: 134,815 — Total recoveries: 995,576 — Total tested: 39,553,395Map.
  3. Politics: Trump wears face mask in public for first time.
  4. Public health: Fauci hasn't briefed Trump on the coronavirus pandemic in at least two months — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  5. States: Louisiana governor issues face mask mandate.
  6. World: India reimposes lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar.

Biden's doctrine: Erase Trump, re-embrace the world

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto, and Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Foreign policy will look drastically different if Joe Biden defeats President Trump in November, advisers tell Axios — starting with a Day One announcement that the U.S. is re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement and new global coordination of the coronavirus response.

The big picture: If Trump's presidency started the "America First" era of withdrawal from global alliances, Biden's team says his presidency would be the opposite: a re-engagement with the world and an effort to rebuild those alliances — fast.

Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.