Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

‘Will never rejoin’: Record casualties take toll on Afghan forces | Afghanistan News | Al Jazeera

Posted by M. C. on November 26, 2018

Salman, 27, a police officer in the northwestern province of Faryab, said he had not been paid in three months and air support during attacks by the Taliban “were not effective”.

US foreign policy: When in a hole, dig some more.

As the Taliban maintain an upper hand in the 17-year Afghanistan conflict, casualties in the country’s beleaguered security forces are reaching what experts warn are unsustainable levels.

Since the beginning of 2015, nearly 30,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been killed, President Ashraf Ghani revealed this month – a figure far higher than anything previously acknowledged…

Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces have long seen high rates of attrition.

But the shocking mortality rate has sent the already shaky morale to new lows, with many soldiers questioning how much further they should push their luck.

In the third quarter of 2018, the number of soldiers and police deployed across Afghanistan fell to 312,328 – nearly 9,000 fewer than only a year ago, and the lowest level for any comparable period since 2012, a US watchdog said in October.

Reasons for attrition included fatalities, and soldiers going AWOL or declining to re-enlist, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said, citing the US defence department…

Casualty figures for Afghan forces have been kept under wraps since 2017 at the request of Kabul, but NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan recently told SIGAR that this summer’s toll was worse than ever.

That would come as no surprise to Ashiqullah, a police officer in the eastern province of Nangarhar, an ISIL stronghold that also has a heavy Taliban presence.

“Every day we are seeing our comrades being killed,” Ashiqullah, 24, said.

“We don’t have proper equipment and most of our friends have been killed or quit the service.”..

The growing number of dead and wounded has made it harder to recruit police in some areas, Interior Ministry’s recruitment chief Mohammad Daud admitted.

A police recruitment centre in the northern province of Balkh has seen a near 80 percent drop in the number of recruits this year, an official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

But a centre in the Nangarhar provincial capital of Jalalabad said the number of people registering to fight remained high.

Defence ministry spokesman Jawed Ahmad Ghafor said the number of people signing up to the army “has not decreased at all”.

Fazlullah, 24, said it had been his dream “to protect and defend my country”, as he signed up in Nangarhar.

“I am not joining the police force to have a peaceful life,” he said. “I go to sacrifice myself for my country.”

Others say that in a country with rampant unemployment, they have no other options if they want to support their families.

“I joined the security forces … to provide food and a salary for my family,” said Sapai, 27, a soldier in Nangarhar…

Afghan and US forces say the Taliban fighters are suffering heavy casualties too.

But the losses do not appear to have eroded their desire to fight, even as international efforts to engage them in peace talks gather pace.

“They attack us every night,” said Enayatullah, a 29-year-old police officer in the southeastern province of Ghazni, who has been wounded twice by landmines.

“My service in the police will finish in a few days and I will never rejoin.”

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