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Were the Afghan Forces Inadequate to fight Taliban?

Afghan Forces surrender before the Taliban despite being well-trained, why?


Afghanistan is seeing its dark days again, civilians are dying, people are rushing to save their lives, running after withdrawing their savings and looking up to some help for refuge. Ever since the United States of America announced the withdrawal of its troops, the Taliban had gone on a rampage to seize one district after another. A Taliban spokesperson claimed that most of these provinces were taken over by them without even having a battle. Taliban is rapidly advancing to crush the US efforts to turn the Afghan military into a robust, independent fighting force.

As per The Guardian, after 2 decades of training and spending almost $88.3 billion on weapons and types of equipment Afghan forces failed to give a befitting reply to the Taliban.

The Afghan forces expanded substantially over the past two decades, with more than 200 bases and outposts.

SIGAR found, in the year 2003, the strength of Afghan forces was 6000. By April 2021, it strengthened to approximately 1,82,071.

For 20 years, the Afghan army who fought alongside the US troops was trained to match the way the Americans operate. However, ever since the US announced its exit, the Afghan government failed to adjust its military footprint to match the new reality.

The disintegration of Afghan forces began much before Biden announced the withdrawal of US troops. Experts say there is no evidence that the Taliban had increased their manpower to launch the latest offence except that it included some of the 5,000 insurgent detainees who were released under the Doha agreement.

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So, what worked in favour of the Taliban?

It was found that there were large existences of ‘ghost soldiers’ in the Afghan army. Ghost soldiers are those that are listed on paper as part of the forces but do not exist in real life. The US top officials have expressed concerns over corruption leading to the presence of ghost soldiers. This allows others to collect their salaries.

In a quarterly report of SIGAR, about 50%-70% of police posts were filled with ghost personnel. Although there are officially 3,00,000 Afghan troops on paper, some experts claim they are fewer in reality.

According to a recent report of CTC submitted in January 2021, a net assessment of Afghan soldiers was prepared. Report says the Afghan army constituted about 96,000 soldiers, including police forces.

Experts have raised questions over the accuracy of data on the actual strength of Afghan forces.

Low morale of Afghan forces

The US decision to exit without a planned military transition encouraged the Taliban and hit the morale of the Afghan forces. An utterly demoralized Afghan military felt little motivation to defend the corrupt, incumbent regime. There was a lack of confidence among Afghani troops that they could defeat the Taliban without the US military’s support.

Afghan forces retreated despite billions spent on their equipment and training by the US and its allies. Many reports even claimed that Afghan forces fled the Taliban onslaught ceding control of territories.

According to reports of The Wall Street Journal, they even left advanced weaponry, only to be seized by the militants. Some Afghan officials blame the abrupt withdrawal of US logistical and air support.

Deep-rooted corruption

Critics also blame chronic corruption and mismanagement within the armed forces to be one of the reasons. Taliban overrun isolated outposts, massacred soldiers who resisted, and allowed safe passage to those who surrendered. The Taliban reportedly even gave pocket money to some troops, who were unpaid for months.

Some provincial leaders and senior commanders reportedly gave in to surrender deals. According to reports, the peaceful surrender of some army units encouraged many others to follow.

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