Security

Afghan forces prepare for major counterattack against Taliban

By Salaam Times and AFP

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An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier stands guard at a gate of a hospital insidethe former US air base at Bagram, some 70km north of Kabul, on July 5. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- Afghan authorities on Tuesday (July 6) vowed to retake all the districts lost to the Taliban in recent days as the Taliban continue to wage an offensive across Afghanistan.

Afghan authorities deployed hundreds of commandos and pro-government group members to counter the Taliban's offensive in northern Afghanistan, which earlier resulted in hundreds of Afghan troops fleeing into neighbouring Tajikistan.

Fighting has raged across several provinces, but the insurgents have primarily focused on a campaign across the northern countryside.

"We are planning to launch a big offensive to retake the lost territories from the enemy," Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence, told AFP.

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Tajik rapid response forces at the Chorukhdaron Training Grounds in Tajikistan. [Negmatullo Mirsaidov]

"Our forces are being organised on the ground for this operation."

Hundreds of troops and pro-government group members were deployed in Takhar and Badakhshan provinces.

Afghan defence officials have said they intend to focus on securing major cities, roads and border towns in the face of the Taliban offensive, launched in early May as US and NATO troops pressed ahead with their final withdrawal planned for September 11.

The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) continue to maintain control over the country's cities, with most territorial losses in sparsely populated rural areas.

"Many of the districts that have fallen were low-hanging fruit -- remotely positioned and difficult to resupply or reinforce, with little strategic military value," said Andrew Watkins, a senior analyst on Afghanistan for the International Crisis Group.

Instead of sincerely participating in negotiations for peace and a political settlement, the Taliban seem focused on positioning their troops for a military takeover.

US President Joe Biden attempted to ease concerns at the White House last Friday.

The US military is keeping an "over the horizon capacity" that could bring firepower to help the government and its forces if needed, he said.

Media reports say the Pentagon will probably retain about 600 troops in Afghanistan to guard the vast US diplomatic compound in Kabul.

The top US envoy to Kabul, Ross Wilson, lashed out at the insurgents.

"Violence and terror cannot create peace," he tweeted Saturday.

Central Asia on alert

Tajikistan's State National Security Committee (GKNB) confirmed Monday that Afghan troops had crossed into the country after clashes with the Taliban during the night.

"Taking into account the principle of good neighbourliness and adhering to the position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, the military personnel of the Afghan government forces were allowed to enter Tajik territory," said the statement, published by Tajikistan's state information agency.

In response, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon ordered "the mobilisation of 20,000 reserve troops to further strengthen the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan", a statement from the presidency said.

Rahmon ordered members of the Security Council and the directors of defence and law enforcement agencies to adopt concrete measures to secure the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, AKIpress reported.

Also on Monday, Rahmon conferred by phone with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Uzbek president's press office said in a statement.

The two leaders discussed relevant issues of Tajik-Afghan relations and regional co-operation, with special attention to the impact the escalating tensions in Afghanistan could have on the region.

'We will not surrender'

Afghan commander Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, who is now in charge of Bagram Air Base -- from where American warplanes bombed Taliban hideouts for 20 years -- said Afghan forces were ready to defend against the militants.

Kohistani said he was already receiving reports that the Taliban were making "movements in rural areas" surrounding the base.

"The enemy are determined and will definitely try to attack here," said Rafiullah, a private stationed at Bagram.

"But we will not give them the chance," he said as behind him two Afghan military helicopters took off.

"We haven't come here to sleep. Everybody here is prepared to secure Bagram. Our morale is high," insisted Rafiullah.

Another soldier also defiantly said he was ready to fight the Taliban.

"We will not surrender, but we need weapons and strong backing from our leaders," he said.

More than 300 Taliban fighters were killed in fighting with government forces over the previous 24 hours, the Ministry of Defence said Saturday.

Scores were killed in air strikes, including a pre-dawn assault on Saturday, in Helmand province, where the insurgents and government troops have regularly clashed.

"In recent days, the Afghan air force has intensified its air strikes against the Taliban hideouts and the insurgents have suffered casualties," Attaullah Afghan, a member of the Helmand provincial council, told AFP.

In another statement Tuesday, the Defence Ministry said 261 Taliban militants were killed and 206 wounded in Laghman, Nangarhar, Paktika, Kandahar, Zabul, Badghis, Balkh, Jawzjan, Helmand, Badakhshan, Kunduz and Kapisa provinces over the last 24 hours.

In another incident, the Afghan air force Monday targeted and killed Miraj, a Taliban militant in charge of facilitating suicide attacks in Afghanistan's southwest provinces, alongside five would be suicide bombers, the ministry said Monday.

"Miraj was the cousin of Sader Ibrahim, the Taliban's military commander for southern provinces," the statement said.

Do you trust the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to provide safety from terrorism and violence?

7 Comment

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The ANA and NDS forces are the heroes and lions of Afghanistan.

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The Afghan National Army soldiers are the heroes of Afghanistan's history and identity. They are the pride of our country; as they always hold up the flag of the victory and fight against the terrorists and the savage Taliban who have killed thousands of our compatriots, including the youths and innocent civilians. As long as these honest and home-loving Afghans are alive, they will not forgive these savage mercenaries of Pakistan. We support our national army.

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Taliban and their supporters, whether they are civil activists, politicians, journalists, anyone else or any group of people who support Taliban must be recognized and destroyed; there is no other way.

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Afghan security forces must be fully prepared against the attacks of Taliban, and the government must work to professionalize these forces. The only way to save Afghanistan is to strengthen and professionalize the country's security forces. Afghan forces have a lot of problems. The main reason for the heavy casualties of Afghan forces sustain is that they are unprofessional. If these forces were professional, they would not have witnessed so many casualties in the past years, because Taliban and other groups do not have as much advanced military equipment as the Afghan security forces have, but the casualties of the Afghan forces are greater than those of the anti-government groups. This is due to the fact that they are unprofessional and did not receive long-term military trainings. The government should try to give them training.

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The issue is clear. In fact, the war is between two camps; in one camp, there are Taliban, Pakistan, and Iran who want to kill Afghans and destroy infrastructures including schools, hospitals, hydropower dams in Afghanistan. In the other camp, there is the Afghan government (however, it is largely corrupt), the national army, and the international community who want Afghanistan to have a higher and respective position in the world and have political, social, technical, and academic relations with the world community. To defeat the terrorists and supporters of terrorists, the number of the Afghan national army's commando and special forces need to be increased and provided with better training. It is said that right now, Afghanistan has forty thousand commando forces. If they are forty, they should be increased to eighty thousand. If they are sixty thousand, they should be increased to 120 thousand. Similarly, the number of special forces said to be three to five thousand personnel now should increase to more than ten thousand forces. In short, we are encountering an equipped and well-trained terrorist army of Pakistan who still follows the way and slogan of their former general Akhtar Abdur Rahman who was saying that 'Kabul should be burnt.' Long live to the Afghan and international community's friendship—death to Pakistan, Iran, and other terrorists.

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In my opinion, the reason for the fall of districts and the increment of offensive attacks by Taliban is the incompetence of the security agencies’ officials. There is no coordination between the security agencies. In addition, politicization of the security forces is the cause of collapse and defeat of security forces. Officials and commanders of the posts and districts are appointed on the basis of bribery and recommendation. They do not have the required capacity to manage the war. The Afghan government must try to recruit qualified and experienced individuals in the security agencies.

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I agree with your viewpoint, and one of the reasons for the fall of the districts has been losing the fighting morale of the security forces in the areas where the security forces were under siege, but the security agencies did not take action and did not save them from the siege. These kinds of things result that security forces get killed or surrendered to Taliban. Now there is perception among the security forces that no one is listening to them and no one will help them. They believe that they should fight as long as it is possible; otherwise, they should leave or surrender. Soldiers’ blood does not have value to the government. Now the situation is in a manner that when a post or a base collapses in one place, no one knows about that. These factors have contributed to bring the spirit or morale of the Afghan security forces low.

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