Afghan forces continue to suffer staggering losses since they assumed responsibility for their country’s security four years ago. President Ashraf Ghani last week said 45,000 security forces have been killed since he took office in September 2014. Moreover, Kabul government is steadily losing its grip over parts of Afghanistan, even as American forces intensify their air campaign against insurgent groups.
The latest grim assessment of Afghanistan’s security situation comes as the US pursues talks with the Taliban and urgently seeks a way out of the 17-year war. Numbers provided by Resolute Support, the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan, show that as of October 31, only 63.5 per cent of Afghans are living in areas controlled or influenced by the Kabul government — down from 65.2 per cent the previous quarter. According to the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which compiled the data, the decrease came as Kabul’s control or influence over Afghan districts dropped. SIGAR said just 53.8 per cent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts are in government hands, and experts on Afghanistan say the number is lower still.
The strength of Afghan security forces has continued to dwindle, and currently stands at 308,693 personnel. That means only 87.7 per cent of positions are filled, the lowest level since January 2015.