BRUSSELS — The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, says Taliban insurgents are inflicting heavy losses on Afghan national security forces as the Afghans assume the lead, VoA Reported.
U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a gathering where U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel joined NATO defense ministers to talk about the way forward in Afghanistan as international forces prepare to draw down next year.
As that drawdown nears, international troops are taking up more of a support role and it is the Afghans who are in the lead against the insurgents. Now on the front lines with international troops only providing backup, the Afghans are at risk for greater losses.
Several weeks into the fighting season, General Dunford said the Taliban has done what it said it would do: step up high-profile assaults and insider attacks to create fear and intimidation.
He called the losses among Afghan forces significant.
“The numbers have been, as I look back over the last six or eight weeks, it’s probably been 70 in one week. It was 44, 34 and then the last two weeks have been over 100,” Dunford said.
But Dunford said the Afghan forces are exceeding expectations in their ability to take on the insurgents and he expressed confidence that they are well on their way to being able to defend their country on their own.
The general said the only operations still led by U.S. and other international forces include local security patrols, route clearance, and drawdown operations.
The high number of Afghan casualties is one reason U.S. military officials want to wait before deciding how many foreign troops should remain in Afghanistan to continue training, advising, and assisting the Afghans after most international troops leave at the end of next year.
U.S. officials have said President Barack Obama could agree to leave up to 10,000 U.S. troops for training Afghan forces and maintaining counter-terrorism operations.