Over the past three years more than 13,000 Afghan soldiers and policemen have been killed fighting the Taliban. That staggering statistic will likely continue to rise as the 4,302 Afghan security personnel killed and 8,009 wounded so far this year is a rate almost 40 percent higher than this time last year.
The latest Afghan casualty numbers released by the Pentagon on Friday are based on information provided by the Afghan National Defense Security Force which includes the Afghan Army, Afghan National Police, Afghan Air Force and the Afghan Local Police.
They show that from January 1 to July 31, 2015 4,302 Afghan security personnel were killed in action and 8,009 wounded in combat with the Taliban. That’s a 36 percent increase over the same time frame last year when there were 3,337 killed and 5,746 wounded.
For comparison 2,215 American service members died and 20,027 were wounded during the 13 year U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan that ended in December, 2014. Some 10,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan to train Afghan troops, but hardly ever leave their bases as Afghan security forces have taken the lead for security in recent years.
The high fatality rates continue the trend that began in 2013 when Afghan security troops assumed the lead for security throughout Afghanistan.
Some 4,350 Afghan security personnel were killed in action in 2013 and that number increased the following year to 4,634 in 2014. The 9,000 deaths led Lt. General Joseph Anderson to say last November the casualty rates. At the time Anderson was the second highest ranking U.S. general in Afghanistan.
U.S. military officials say the high casualty rates for Afghan troops reflects the increased security role of the nearly 327,000 Afghan troops and police.
“The Afghan security forces are holding their own and doing fairly well,” said Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, the top military spokesman in Afghanistan, told Pentagon reporters on Thursday. Shoffner said the number of Taliban initiated attacks is down eight percent this year from last year.
A Pentagon report released in June said the highest casualty rates were among the Afghan National Police and the Afghan Local Police who are most likely to face Taliban attack “primarily because they are often employed at isolated checkpoints and are not as well armed or trained” as the Afghan Army.
It said the number of Afghan casualties were “highest during the first few months of 2015, reaching approximately 80 percent higher than the same period last year.”
The casualty rates were said to be “of serious concern” but the report said Afghan force “remain cohesive and do not show indications that they will fail under the strain as they continue to demonstrate tactical superiority over insurgents and maintain consistent control over Afghanistan’s populated areas.”
The U.S. has been working with the Afghan police to change their tactics and procedures to better protect their forces from roadside bombs. Afghan police operate in non-armored vehicles that are likely to suffer greater damage from roadside bombs than military vehicles.