Afghan forces bear brunt of rising Taliban attacks

Afghan forces bear brunt of rising Taliban attacks

Taliban escalate attacks on security forces in bid to enter peace talks with position of strength, officials say

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - The raging war with Taliban has proven deadly for the Afghan security forces as bodies pile on by the dozens every week.

Taliban have accelerated armed attacks and suicide assaults in an apparent bid to demonstrate strength on the battlefield.

Alongside, U.S. peace envoy in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad continues to make attempts to cease hostilities with the Taliban.

In a rare move last week, President Ashraf Ghani confirmed more that 28,000 Afghan troops have been killed since late 2014, when they took over security responsibilities from the better trained NATO forces.

Security officials in capital Kabul told Anadolu Agency that the Afghan forces are occupied with full-blown wars in at least 22 of the 34 provinces across the country.

Taliban also continue attacks on major urban centers including the capital.

- Infiltration in security forces

Infiltration by rebels in the forces claimed the lives of local police, intelligence chiefs and a U.S. officer in the southeastern city of Kandahar last week.

Underlining the need for readjustment in war strategy, Javed Ghafor, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said there have been drastic changes in the way Afghan forces have been operating so far.

“We have moved away a number of remote and isolated check posts and have merged them into larger bases to consolidate the forces,” he said.

This, though, has not proven very effective. Last week, rebels stormed into one such recently consolidated base in restive Farah province bordering Iran killing 30 security personnel.

The joint army and police base on the main Herat-Kandahar highway in the Bala Bulook district was stormed by rebels with the help of at least six infiltrators earlier this month, the Taliban said.

Former Afghan Air Force chief retired Gen. Atiqullah Amarkhail says consolidating the smaller and remote check posts is a handy idea, but the reason why Afghan forces are still sustaining injuries is due to lack of coordination and contingency plans.

“The enemy has been attacking check posts in three formations; one group attacks the target while two others wait at strategic locations to target the reinforcements. This can only be overcome if the security forces have good contingency plans and coordination among them,” he said.

Delays in the transportation of wounded soldiers to health facilities has also been contributing to the death toll, the analyst noted.

- Blame game

The Kabul government has been asserting that the scaled-up offensives by the Taliban are basically to enter peace negotiations from a position of strength.

Officials have been blaming neighbouring countries, particularly Iran and Pakistan, for promoting terrorism in Afghanistan to hinder development projects, a charge Islamabad and Tehran reject.

The parliament's defense and security affairs committee has summoned concerned ministers multiple times over the past few months to question them over their failures.

Nisar Ahmad, chairman of the committee, told Anadolu Agency rising casualties is a pressing issue. "Our security forces need to change their position from the defensive posture into offensive mode that would help minimize their casualties and counter the advances of the rebels,” he said.

The strength of the Afghan National Army is over 195,000, according to official figures.

Every month 6,000 new recruits join the forces in a show of resilience in the face of terror threats, the Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Khalilzad has met twice with the Taliban representatives in Qatar in the hopes for the resumption of talks prior to the 2019 presidential elections.

Meanwhile, parallel to Washington's push for talks with the Taliban, Russia managed to stage Moscow Conference on Afghanistan last week though with low profile representation from parties to the conflict and a number of regional countries including Pakistan and Iran.

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