Coalition and Afghan military deaths since 2007
By Tim Foxley
Summary: The Afghan army – slow improvements amidst rising casualties.
I was struck by this piece of information. This chart from a BBC report by David Loyn about the Afghan army capabilities and casualties. It shows very clearly the increasing trend of casualties being suffered by the ANSF relative to the ISAF forces. Everything points to 2013 being an even more deadly year. One can only speculate at the level of wounded associated with this figure. But it doesn’t necessarily point to imminent collapse. The BBC notes the positive and negative:
During a recent reporting assignment in that area, I saw far more competent Afghan forces than I have witnessed before. They had high morale, good equipment, were using GPS and other modern equipment with confidence and had the ability to call in accurate artillery strikes from several kilometres away. This could make all the difference as they operate on their own – replacing the Nato air support that they have relied on up to now. It will be some time before the Afghan forces are equipped with significant air power. The growing competence is seen in the response to several recent attacks on the Afghan capital, Kabul.
In two of the attacks in the last month, militants seized buildings and needed to be confronted. Newly trained rapid reaction police acted swiftly to retake control. Civilian casualties have been very low. But the pressures on these forces are substantial. As well as death and injury, the Afghan police and army are losing thousands to desertion, at an attrition rate that requires them to sign up 50,000 new recruits every year to replace those lost.
This is “unsustainable”, according to Gen Nick Carter, the deputy commander of Isaf and most senior British general in the country.
It is also worth remembering that quality of care in the Afghan military hospitals is pretty poor.
But I guess one could also speculate on some other causes of casualties of the Afghan army:
- Poor individual training
- Lack of access/support from heavier weapons
- Support arms generally less capable (medical, intelligence, planning, logistics)
- Being asked to do a lot/too much before they are ready
- Complexity of COIN-type operations