Casualty rates for Afghan forces unsustainable, U.S. general says
WASHINGTON — Afghan security forces are winning the fight against the Taliban, but they’re suffering casualties at an unsustainable rate, the No. 2 coalition commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday.
Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson said more than 8,900 Afghan security forces were killed in action during the past two years as Afghan forces have taken the lead in combat operations.
“This is not sustainable,” Anderson said in a videoconference with Pentagon reporters. “They do need to decrease their casualty rate.”
He said Afghan security forces, which include soldiers and police, are working on improving their tactics and protective measures, such as equipment to counter roadside bombs, that could help lower the casualties. Afghan officers are also trying to limit soldiers going AWOL and boost recruitment to maintain sufficient strength.
Anderson, who heads the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, based in Kabul, said 4,634 Afghan security forces have been killed in action so far this year, up from 4,350 last year.
At the same time, the number of American casualties decreased sharply as more U.S. troops leave the country and those still there have more of a support role. Afghan forces lead combat operations.
During the past two years, 176 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan, according to icasualties.org, which tracks coalition casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the start of the war in 2001, 2,350 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan, according to the organization.
The coalition combat mission ends this year, and the White House has said 9,800 American troops will remain to advise and assist the Afghan forces and provide a counterterrorism force.
There are 27,000 American troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of about 100,000 in 2010 and 2011.
The Taliban remains active in a number of remote areas around the country.