Recent news coverage of the war in Afghanistan has zeroed in on the fact that as U.S. force draw down there and shift to advising roles, Afghan forces have been engaged in heavy combat with the Taliban.
U.S. commanders have acknowledged several times that Afghan forces have taken heavy losses as a result, but rarely have provided numbers that clarify how serious the situation is. There’s no doubt after Wednesday, however: they’re losing dozens of troops each week, including 104 in one week recently, said Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. commander, to reporters in Belgium on Wednesday.
“The numbers have been, you know, as I look back over the last six or eight weeks, it’s probably, you know, 70 one week. It was 44, 34, and then the last two weeks have been over 100,” Dunford said, according to a Pentagon transcript. “Yeah, which is — which is significant. It also highlights that they are actually in the lead right now.”
Dunford said the casualties have been “an issue,” but that Afghan forces will still assume full control of security in Afghanistan in June, with the coalition purely in a supporting role afterward.
“I would tell you this, in terms of how they’re doing, the Taliban came out and they’re doing exactly what they said they would do, high-profile attacks, attempting insider attacks against the Afghans, and then fear, murder and intimidation,” Dunford said.
U.S. casualties have plummeted to near zero as the transition downrange has occurred. One has to wonder, though: If Afghan forces are taking this many casualties with U.S. air support and medical evacuations still frequently available, how will they do when they’re gone?