Coach K at U.S. Northern Command

Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University Men's Basketball Coach, visited the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command and spoke with both senior leaders and visiting members of the famed WWII 12th Armored Division "Hellcats" and their families about building and enhancing organizational culture and sustaining excellence on Peterson AFB, Colorado, July 26. Portions of this photo have been blurred to protect sensitive information and operational security. (Northern Command Photo)

Even as a peace process grinds ahead to end the war in Afghanistan, it has become a more violent place and the insurgents are getting better at their job, a report by the Pentagon’s Afghanistan watchdog found.

Attacks were up 66 percent, and 43 percent of insurgent attacks were deemed “effective” — a 17%-point increase in the enemy’s success rate, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found.

The spike in violence comes as Afghan security forces see their strength trickling away. The watchdog reported Afghan security forces had just 77 percent of the forces they need, and the gap grew by 10 percent in the past three months, the report found.

The reports, released every three months, have drawn ire from the Trump administration, because they point out problems rather than successes. But examining the 18-year-old war has never been more important.

The administration wants to make a peace deal by Sept. 1, and many worry whether Afghanistan’s government can stand after the U.S. pulls back some or all of the 16,000 troops now backing the Kabul government and training its troops.

The report found that for Afghanistan to succeed, continued U.S. support is key.

While Afghanistan has seen improvements in the years since the U.S. invaded, many parts of the Kabul government continue to drag their feet, the report found.

“Nearly 2.6 million girls are out of school in Afghanistan, according to the Afghan government,” the report found.

Maybe Afghanistan just needs a good coach.

U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs last month got some pointers in leadership and team building from Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke University basketball coach who has won five national championships.

Northern Command said Krzyzewski talked to the troops and visiting World War II veterans there about the “importance of the homeland defense mission, building and enhancing organizational culture and sustaining excellence.”

Established after 9/11 to protect the continent from attack and assist local officials dealing with natural and “man-made” disasters, leaders at Northern Command call what they do a “no-fail mission.”

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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