The sudden killings of six American service members on a foot patrol by a suicide bomber this week is a graphic message back home that the Taliban are durable, able to launch a number of coordinated attacks in recent months across Afghanistan 14 years after the U.S. invasion.

A Pentagon report calls the security situation “fragile” and writes of the Taliban’s “resilience throughout the second half of the year.”

The security picture seems to be more precarious now than in recent years. The Taliban are targeting Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) units that are working without any American direct ground combat role and only sporadic air power.

The U.S. has 9,800 troops in the country, mostly in the east and in and around Bagram airfield north of Kabul, strictly in a train-and-assist role. Afghans take the lead on all combat missions.

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