Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 10th, 2018

Afghan Soldiers Victim of Absence of Battle Field War Strategy in the Face of Ongoing Relentless Attrition

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Afghan Soldiers Victim of Absence of Battle Field War Strategy  in the Face of Ongoing Relentless Attrition

Casualties of Afghan soldiers in battle fields continue to rise as Taliban insurgents persistently attack government installations and military outposts in country sides across the country. A rogue police officer turned his gun on his sleeping comrades in Farah killing fifty people. Another seventy personnel of Afghan national army were killed in fighting in the same province last week. These incidents were reported by brother of one of the police personnel who was among the killed ones. In Kunduz province, Taliban insurgents have killed seventeen local police and army personnel in Qalai Zal district on fifteen November. Almost the same numbers of local police personnel were killed in another attack four weeks ago in Qalai Zal district. These figures represent Afghan security and defense personnel casualties in two of the provinces while fighting rages on in several fronts in many provinces across the country, and casualties arising from those battle fields are not at hand. It seems government policy concerning records of security and defense personnel are strictly controlled and real figures are not put out to press or public attention. This staggering figure of losses in human lives among police and army personnel in Afghan security and defense institutions is alarming. Taliban insurgents have embedded themselves in this war of attrition using highly sophisticated tactics against Afghan security and defense personnel. According to Mr. Faiz Mohammad, police chief of Qalai Zal district in Kunduz province, ‘Taliban insurgents have powerful night vision tools while Afghan security and defense personnel do not have any kind of night vision tools’. He said Afghan government logistical support to military outposts in villages, districts and city outskirts was very weak. Commander Faiz Mohammad  further said ‘Government had already lost control of two districts, namely Qalai Zal and Dasht Archi. In both of these districts, Taliban are in control of almost the entire district population and landmass. Government has relocated the district administrative buildings out of the district centers, and installed them in another area closer to main army bases where they cannot serve any government related services to the people. The only reason for such government buildings is to show to outside world that government had a presence in the entire province while tacitly acknowledges Taliban insurgents’ rules in those areas by ceding territories  to them.
Lack of strong leadership and faulty command / control structure in Afghan security and defense institutions has negatively affected performance of these critical institutions. Navigating all military decorum, rules and ethics, Minister of Defense who was summoned by Parliament early last week, had clearly said that Afghan defense and security personnel were not capable to counter Taliban insurgents…’. Such statements from the highest security officials of the country can only demoralize military and police personnel and can reel back progress made during last one and half decade. This exhibits pathetic conditions of the abilities of the officials in leadership positions who run and lead the brave soldiers and police personnel in the battle fields. Afghan soldiers – men and women – have showed valor and continue to sacrifice their lives for the pure cause to defend the motherland. Bravery, valor and a will to fight and stand the enemy fire in battlefields is the only reason for such a staggering number of casualties on the part of Afghan security and defense personnel. Appointment of senior officers in Afghan security and defense institutions has been faulty and not based on merit. Political dispensation, regional and ethnic affiliation had been the norm to recruit senior officials in these important institutions. The result of such defective course to formation of Afghan defense and security forces has led to alarming level of casualties inflicted in battlefields because of lack of knowledge, education, experience and logistical know-how on the part of senior military and police officials.
Afghan Government is fighting an entrenched insurgency for last more than one and half decade. Defense and security institutions should have in place a viable battlefield war strategy that can meet existing challenges of a war natured by insurgency and foreign interference. It goes without saying that formulation of such a multifaceted strategy with many moving parts is a job that requires highly trained, experienced and knowledgeable leadership at the helm of affairs of these institutions. Such a strategy should include formation of robust military armed units stationed across the country with bulk of them in provinces that are more exposed to insurgents attacks, a relentless campaign in cities, districts, villages and main population centers to impart awareness to the public about enemy designs to exploit peoples’ religious, ethnic, linguistic and regional affiliation sentiments against their government, and to unleash large development programs in countryside, areas where people are affected by ongoing war and other areas of larger population centers to garner support for the government. Engaging people in economic activities is one of the most successful tools government can use to fight insurgency and build a bulwark on the way to insurgents’ recruitment of young people in their ranks to fight against Government. Such a strategy is non-existing!  
Afghan Government repeatedly complain about lack of advanced weapons, resources and related amenities, but to have a deep look into the money and weapons, vehicles, airplanes and intelligence support by NATO, Afghan army and police force is one of the richest in the region. They spend more than five billions US Dollars per year. At least, compared to what Taliban insurgents have or use in battle against the army and police force, Afghan army is positioned in a much better place. It is inherently true to say that incapable army officials always create smokescreen to cover for their shortfalls / sufferings in battlefields. Persistent demands for more and still no results in battlefields require serious attention and overhaul of entire defense and security institutions, their organizational health, command / control structure and logistic / supply management system. It is imperative on the part of Government to keep Afghan security and defense institutions out of political dispensation and build efficient military academies in order to impart training and education to Afghan police and military personnel.
Afghan Government should take heed of the present situation of the battlefields / theatres in the country, and focus on shortfalls and defects in the ongoing military operations across the country to address those issues on the spot. The first step towards undertaking such work is to extensively form and mobilize military and state intelligence agencies and activate their cells behind the lines of enemy and within the ranks of Afghan security and defense personnel and institutions. Flow of data and information is critical for keeping a stable, strong and efficient army. Putting in place an efficient command and control system across thirty-four provinces of the country is equally important. It has been reported that Taliban insurgents have formed rapid offensive battalions across the country, called ‘Red Units’. Presence of powerful night vision tools with Taliban fighters across the country, which they use in every military operation, is a cause for concern. Afghan army and police units should be equipped with more advance tools to cancel the effects of the enemy forces. Casualties inflicted on Afghan army and police units are mostly due to this imbalance in quality and quantity of weapons and supportive gadgets, created due to their abundance with Taliban insurgence and their lack with Afghan Government forces.

Mohammed Gul Sahibbzada is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammed.g.sahibbzada@gmail.com

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