Afghan Officers Sound Alarm on Military Casualties

Facing an agile insurgent force, security forces have struggled since NATO troop exit.

Afghan Officers Sound Alarm on Military Casualties

Facing an agile insurgent force, security forces have struggled since NATO troop exit.

Thursday, 12 November, 2015

Afghan security officials have warned that the armed forces are struggling to cope with the continuing Taleban insurgency.

Turyalai Abdiani, police chief in the restive Urozgan province, told an IWPR-organised debate last month that the national security forces were feeling the absence of the NATO forces that withdrew from Afghanistan last year, and combat casualties had risen.

The police and army rely heavily on intelligence provided by civilians, and Abdiani said it was vital for people to do everything they could to help.

“The ongoing war will only end when all Afghans stand with the government and really support it,” he added.

Brigadier-General Mohammad Rasul Kandahari, commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade, deployed in Urozgan, agreed that public cooperation was essential to winning the battle.

He said that although the Taleban suffered higher casualties than the armed forces, their guerrilla tactics were constantly evolving.

“The enemy changes its military tactics fast, because he lacks the [firepower] to resist the Afghan military,” he told the audience in Urozgan’s administrative centre, Tarin Kot.

Abdul Karim Khademzai, secretary of the Urozgan provincial council, added, “Since the Afghan national forces sacrifice their blood to provide us with security, we all need to fully support them.”

At a debate in Zabul, a southeastern province bordering on Pakistan, the head of the Shahr-e Safa district council said the army’s leadership was partly to blame for the loss of life among combat troops.

Mohammad Daud  said tactical errors made by commanders had “increased casualties in the national forces”.

The intelligence chief of Shahr-e Safa’s police force, Ghulam Sediq, said the security forces needed more men and equipment.

“We are hoping that if we are provided with heavy weapons and our numbers are increased as needed, we will sustain fewer casualties in future,” he said.

Similar calls for more training and equipment were heard at an IWPR debate held in Khair Kot district of Paktika, a province next to Zabul.

Paktika provincial councillor said the high rates of death and injury in the military were having a serious effect on morale.

Another speaker in the debate, Mohammad Gul Katawazi said servicemen’s families lived in constant fear, and the government needed to do more to reduce the risks, otherwise parents would stop their sons joining up. Katawazi’s brother and a cousin were killed while serving with the Afghan National Police.

Asked by an audience member what practical steps were needed, Baburi said training was needed “in detecting and defusing mines, meeting the enemy in combat, obtaining intelligence and information, and developing good relationships with the population”.

Samiullah, a spokesman for the police in Paktika, also focused on demining.

“Most Afghan policemen and soldiers are killed in mine blasts and suicide attacks,” he said. “If they get better training in how to detect and defuse mines, the level of casualties of this nature will fall.”

This report is based on an ongoing series of debates conducted as part of the IWPR programme Afghan Reconciliation: Promoting Peace and Building Trust by Engaging Civil Society.


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