US Forces Targeted Amid Afghanistan’s Increasingly Difficult Security Transition
The U.S. Army began the integral process of formally handing over security responsibility to Afghan forces in the country last month, but the war-torn nation’s poorly equipped military, its reliance on U.S. troops, and a persistent campaign of Taliban attacks since the initial U.S. invasion into Afghanistan are making the transition a struggle.
Although the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan began 12 years ago, the conflict has come at the cost of 16,000 civilian lives, allegations of misconduct, risked security, American backlash and Afghan resistance.
Formal negotiations for a peace proposal between the United States, Afghan forces and the Taliban have yet to be concluded.
The goal of the NATO-led International Assistance Force mission is for removal of most international troops through 2014, but until then, mentoring, humanitarian aid and international funding will continue toward Taliban dissolution.
A recent insurgent attack killed eight people at a Kabul guesthouse run by an international logistics firm where U.S. engineers and military contractors are based. The firm, C3PO, provides construction work, transportation and supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The deaths of four Nepalese guards, one Afghan guard and three Afghan civilians were caused by four suicide bombers, including one in a detonated truck that also caused damage to nearby buildings housing other international logistic companies.
James Dobbins, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, anticipates the Taliban will continue attacks to strengthen their position against occupying U.S. forces, despite the prospect of peace talks.
Continued assaults from insurgents perpetuate the pressure on U.S. and Afghan coalition forces. Until an Afghan reaction force is set, both the Afghan and U.S. military are posed targets.
The aid of U.S. infantrymen, attack planes, helicopters and medical personnel is coming to an end with the transition, but according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Curby Scarborough, the Afghan forces are more dependent on the U.S. than is preferred.
Of the 46 Humvees given by the U.S., 16 are up and running. Repair to the others is dismally slow due to limited spare parts and untrained mechanics. The lack of equipment repair and maintenance, medical treatment for the wounded, and ammunition make it difficult for Afghan forces to sustain their own militia.
Various Taliban attacks and suicide bombs have also occurred outside the presidential palace compound, the Afghan Supreme Court and the International Airport in Kabul, killing many guards and civilians, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Congress allotted $51 billion to help compose and sustain the Afghan army, but according to Afghan Lt. Col. Kohadamani Hamidullah, if the U.S. provided other tools such as armored Humvees, a motor pool, a repair shop with good mechanics, artillery and a route-clearance package, their forces could fight the Taliban on their own.
However, talks about the new security deal and U.S. assistance through 2014 have been put on hold by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who took issue with a failure by the U.S. to include the Afghan government in peace negotiations with the Taliban.
“In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations, currently underway in Kabul between Afghan and U.S. delegations on the bilateral security agreement,” Karzai said in a statement.
The number of Afghan security forces has increased to 350,000 from fewer than 40,000 six years ago, according to the BBC.
Recently, a mission of 100 soldiers, 40 police officers and 10 governmental spy agents, searched for Taliban fighters, bombs and weapons in three villages near Maidan Shahr. Two suspected insurgents were detained in the search, all of which was planned and led by Hamidullah and Afghan forces without American involvement.
Lt. Col. Scarborough still works alongside Hamidullah daily, but NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that while help will continue for Afghan troops with operations and mentoring, NATO troops will not be the ones to execute or lead those operations.
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