While Resolute Support touted the body count of insurgents during the three-week period following the Afghan government’s unilateral ceasefire as a measure of success, the Taliban has also inflicted casualties on Afghan forces during this timeframe. An estimated 150 Afghan security personnel (soldiers, policemen, and militia fighters) have been killed in major Taliban attacks since July 12, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal.
US Army Major General Andrew Poppas, Resolute Support’s deputy chief of staff for operations, claimed on July 21 that Afghan operations resulted in the killing or wounding of over 1,700 Taliban, Islamic State, and other insurgents. Poppas’ figures are derived from the Afghan ministries of Defense and Interior, which are notorious for inflating casualties. Even if Poppas’ stated figures for insurgent casualties are accurate, he did not explain how the body count equated to progress on the ground. Afghan forces have not wrestled districts from Taliban control during this time period, and the Taliban remains on the offensive. [See LWJ report, NATO command touts body count of ‘Taliban irreconcilables’.]
The estimated 150 Afghan security personnel killed since July 12 was derived from press reports on significant attacks by the Taliban on Afghan bases, security checkpoints, and district centers. A significant attack defined as one where more than five Afghan security personnel were killed. Smaller scale attacks, such as roadside bombings and assassinations, were not included.
FDD’s Long War Journal identified nine major attacks in eight different provinces (Day Kundi, Farah, Kandahar, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Paktika, and Zabul) since July 12. The list below does not include Taliban claims of major attacks on Voice of Jihad; if it did the number would be much higher. The Taliban has claimed nine significant attacks between July 23-24. The Taliban claims cannot be dismissed out of hand as there is often a kernel of truth to the reports. While the Taliban often inflates casualties inflicted on Afghan forces, the attacks often can be verified. Additionally, the Afghan media does not report on every attack.
Note that in each instance, the Taliban killed the Afghan security personnel as they were manning defensive positions. This directly contradicts statements by Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White, who claimed in mid-May of this year that the Taliban is “desperate” and “has not had the initiative.” [See LWJ report, Pentagon spokesperson doubles down on ‘desperate’ Taliban comment.]
List of significant Taliban attacks since July 12:
July 14: The Taliban killed 17 Afghan soldiers after overrun a security checkpoint in Farah.
July 16: The Taliban stormed a security checkpoint in Nangarhar and killed seven soldiers.
July 17: The Taliban killed nine security personnel after overrun three security checkpoints in Kunduz.
July 17: The Taliban killed or wounded 16 Afghan security personnel while attacking checkpoints in Kandahar.
July 23: The Taliban killed 27 Afghan security forces while assaulting checkpoints in Paktika province.
July 23: The Taliban killed nine member of a pro-government militia in Day Kundi province.
July 24: The Taliban killed 15 security personnel in an attack in Zabul.