(WASHINGTON) — To little fanfare the Pentagon released its semi-annual assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan Friday. It reflects the big changes that have taken place this year as NATO and the U.S. military have taken a back seat and Afghan security forces are in charge of their daily combat operations.
A good portion of the “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan” focuses on how Afghan security forces are now in the lead, and the number of Afghan casualties this year reflects this shift.
According to the report, “ANSF casualties have increased by 79 percent this reporting period compared to the same period last year, while ISAF casualties have dropped by 59 percent.” The report said that the high rate of Afghan Army casualties is affecting morale, recruiting and retention.
Afghan National Police fatalities also have risen significantly. A press conference in late October by the Afghan Interior Ministry cited almost 1,273 National police deaths and 770 Village Police deaths between March and October. Several factors contributed to high ANP casualties: Afghan hospitals don’t all have advanced trauma facilities, medic billets are at 50 percent of staffing level, medevac is difficult and policemen aren’t wearing their protective armor.
ISAF continues to provide Afghan security forces “with significant advising and enabling support, such as airlift and close air support (CAS). This enabling support will decline through 2014, and will be difficult for the ANSF to fully replace,” the report said.
The Pentagon report also states bluntly that “ANSF capabilities are not yet fully self-sustainable, and considerable effort will be required to make progress permanent.” It adds that after 2014, the ability of Afghan Security forces to sustain themselves “will be at high risk without continued aid from the international community and continued Coalition force assistance including institutional advising.” But keeping the aid flowing will allow the Afghan forces to maintain its combat operations against the Taliban.
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