Monday, December 14, 2015

Why We Fight: Know Our Heroic Allies

"The American intervention in Helmand [Province, Afghanistan] is accelerating amid growing reports of demoralized or trapped Afghan security forces and alarm at the amount of territory the Taliban have been able to seize in Helmand this year. If the insurgents are able to sweep away the tenuous government presence in district centers and the capital, Lashkar Gah, it would be a dire setback for the Afghan government, and would give the Taliban a strong foothold in southern Afghanistan.

. . . .

 “The security situation is really bad,” said Toofan Waziri, a Helmand politician and prominent television commentator. Without more foreign air support, he added, “the entire province would probably fall to the Taliban in three days.”

. . . .

“The appearance of the Americans rallied the local police forces in both Marja and Lashkar Gah,” he said. “I think the province would have been lost without them. And the neighboring provinces would then have come under pressure, too.”

Even so, on Sunday, officials in Marja reported that the district center was once again on the verge of falling to the insurgents. And in the strategic district of Sangin, the only territory remaining to government forces was one half of the government center, with officials worried on Sunday that even that toehold could soon fall. “If our problems are not heard by provincial authorities,” said Hajji Ghulam Jan, head of the district council in Sangin, “we will be surrendering to the Taliban.”

. . . . 

The official end of American combat operations in Afghanistan left Afghan forces to defend the province, but corruption, incessant attacks and an ineffectual government response have sapped the security forces’ fighting spirit, according to accounts by local soldiers and officials. Many Afghan soldiers and police officers have laid down their weapons and left the battle.

Mr. Waziri said police units in the province were mysteriously understaffed, and that he had seen evidence of widespread selling of weapons and military equipment on the black market — material that was likely to end up with the Taliban or drug traffickers. Communications and coordination between army and police units is a shambles, he said.

. . . . 

Most of northern Helmand is already in the hands of the insurgents; only the Kajaki and Sangin Districts are still held by the government. The Taliban this year took back control of Musa Qala and Nawzad Districts, regions that had been turned back over to the government by American and British forces. Baghran District, in the far north of the province, has been under Taliban rule for a decade."

—   The New York Times, December 14, 2015

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