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The war continues (only less noticed than before): Afghan security force casualties are higher than 13,000

March 7, 2014

Summary: Afghan army and police casualties are high – over 13,000

ANSF mass funeralIn case anyone doubted the level of combat still ongoing inside Afghanistan, now that US, UK and other ISAF forces are more or less confined to barracks and packing up, the Afghan MOD has released figures significantly higher than previous estimates – note that numbers of wounded are an extra 16,500:

New York Times, 3rd March 2014:

KABUL, Afghanistan — More than 13,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers have been killed during the war here, far more than previously known, according to Afghan government statistics.

Most of those losses occurred during the past three years as Afghan forces took over a growing share of the responsibility for security in the country, culminating in full Afghan authority last spring.

The numbers also reflect an increased tempo to the conflict. More clashes have taken place as insurgents test the government forces, without as much fear of intervention from the American-led coalition as it prepares to withdraw.

A statement released late Sunday by President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet, the Council of Ministers, put the total number of people in the Afghan security forces killed in the past 13 years at 13,729, with an additional 16,511 Afghan soldiers and police officers wounded.

Overrunning isloated checkpoints and positions remain a favoured Taliban tactic.  We should note also the potential for higher levels of casualties in specific incidents, given an Afghan military tendency to prefer to hunker down in outposts rather get out and “dominate the ground”:

The Guadian, 23rd February 2014:

The Taliban killed 21 Afghan soldiers on Sunday at a remote outpost near the border with Pakistan, and took at least five others prisoner, in a show of military strength just weeks before a critical election.

The night raid was one of the deadliest single attacks in recent years on the Afghan military, who are stronger and more disciplined than the police and less often targeted directly by insurgents.   Five other soldiers taken prisoner in show of strength against Afghan army just weeks ahead of critical election

We should also remember some pretty sickening stories about the treatment (or lack of) given to wounded Afghan soldiers:

Digital journal, 29th July 2012: A Congressional investigation has uncovered “horrifying” details about a US-funded military hospital in Afghanistan in which patients were kept in what was described as “Auschwitz-like” conditions. A US House subcommittee heard shocking testimony of conditions at the Dawood Miltiary Hospital in Afghanistan. According to Buzzfeed, the allegations include bribery and surgery without anesthesia. Top retired US military officials also made the grave allegation that there was an attempt to block the investigation into conditions at the hospital. According to Rep. Jason Chafetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations, the standard of medical care at the hospital was one of the most “horrific, horrendous things I’ve ever seen.” He said: “Allowing surgery to go on without anesthetics, gangrene, open wounds that aren’t being dressed.”

Combat is likely to intensify in and around the coming election period.  Although the Taliban will not be able to stop the election taking place, there will be efforts to undermine, derail or prevent voting taking place across the country.

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