American military officials insist the high-profile attack in Ghazni was par for the course for the Taliban.

“They attack for the purposes of gaining attention and recognition as being stronger than they are at the expense of the Afghan people,” O’Donnell said. “However, they retreat once directly and decisively engaged by Afghan National Defense and Security Forces as they are unable to seize terrain and unable to match us [Afghan, NATO and U.S. forces] militarily.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis said as much while traveling to South America this week.

Asked if the Taliban offensive in Ghazni showed anything new about the Taliban’s intentions and capabilities, Mattis said, “To me, It simply means a continuation of their willingness to put innocent people in harm’s way. There’s nothing new. It’s the usual endangering of civilians, part and parcel of what they’ve done for the last 20 years.”