The Taliban was very active in 2016 as their drug gang patrons demanded greater efforts to protect core areas used to produce and export the opium and heroin that pays for all this mayhem. While there was a lot more Taliban violence (and drug gang bribery) this year at the end of 2016 the government still controls two-thirds of the population and the Taliban/drug gangs less than ten percent. Despite the small gains the drug gangs are largely satisfied because nearly all the gains have been in areas they value most.
Read it all.
I hope the situation is that bad for the Taliban and that the pro-government people see that, because I was getting a very bad feel for the war after the 2016 campaign.
I had no doubt that the Taliban suffered heavily in the campaign year, but I remained worried that the government forces were under so much pressure that we risked catastrophic failure somewhere if the government did not seize the initiative and go after the Taliban in their territory.
The Taliban are quiet in the winter. So should I draw hope from Strategypage's assessment and the lull or should I worry about what happened last year and what might happen this spring if we don't use the winter to get ready to go after the enemy in the spring?
On another aspect of the counter-insurgency, this article discusses the advantages that working dams give the government in Afghanistan. So we've got that going for us.
All I can add to the dam issue is that I've worried that the only really effective ISIL response to the Iraqi government offensive on Mosul is to attack a major dam upriver from Baghdad that could require every soldier in uniform to cope with in disaster response mode.
Anyway, perhaps my questions and worries regarding the Afghanistan campaign will be answered in the spring.