Taliban routs Afghan Commandos while overrunning remote district in Ghazni

As Taliban fighters continue to battle Afghan forces for control of the provincial capital of Ghazni city, its fighters overran the remote district of Ajristan and routed elite Afghan Commandos who were assigned to defend it. Upwards of 100 Commandos are reported to have been killed after their unit melted away into the mountains.

On its official website, Voice of Jihad, the Taliban claimed it overran the “Ajristan district administration center, police headquarter and other installations” on the afternoon of Aug. 11. The Taliban claimed it killed “an infamous enemy commander Baido along with 5 others,” and captured 25 Afghan security personnel.

Ironically, the Taliban appears to have underestimated the extent of the casualties inflicted on Afghan forces. The New York Times, in a report updating the status of the fighting in Ghazni City, confirmed that Ajristan has fallen to the Taliban and the “elite army commando unit” stationed there has been routed.

“[T]he Taliban seized control of the Ajristan District, and the elite army commando unit that had been defending the district disappeared for two days and their superiors were uncertain of their fate,” The Times reported. “When they found out on Sunday, estimates of the dead ranged from 40 to 100. Twenty-two survivors were carried to safety on donkeys by rescuers who found them lost in the mountains.”

The Taliban has demonstrated that it is able to effectively hit multiple locations at the same time, and with good results. The Taliban has blocked the Kabul-Kandhar Highway in Wardak province and successfully overran Ajristan, all while tying up Afghan forces in a bloody battle for control of Ghazni’s provincial capital.

Afghan Army Commandos and its Special Forces are considered the best outfits in the Afghan military. These units are well armed and equipped, and benefit from close training with US military counterparts. Commandos and Special Forces are often at the tip of the spear when it comes to clearing district centers and bases that have been overrun by the Taliban.

Resolute Support, NATO’s command in Afghanistan, is focusing on expanding these key units in an effort to bolster beleaguered Afghan units who are fighting both a persistent and organized Taliban insurgency. Expanding forces such as the Commandos and its Special Forces often means that recruiting requirements and the intensity of training must be compromised. In a country such as Afghanistan, with high illiteracy rates, the pool of recruits for these elite units is already small.

The fact that such an elite unit was overrun and took a high rate of casualties my be an indication that the Commandos and Special Forces may be overworked and are losing their effectiveness. These units run at a high operational pace, and have taken significant casualties as of late. In one of the more daring operations, the Taliban killed 10 Afghan Special Forces soldiers and eight policemen during an ambush in Farah province in March of this year.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.


  • MIKE says:

    now you know where the taliban is! CARPEN BOMB THEM THERE!

  • Lance Cordll says:

    With all due respect, this experiment of ours since 2001 in Afghanland is a complete willful failure of The United States politicos and academic eggheads. Long past time to extricate our forces from that vile place.

  • John says:

    100,000 civilians in the city?

  • Guddy says:

    It’s not a vile country. The citizens have been and will continue to be as normal as any other human. They are beautiful inside and out. Their country has Been cursed for thousands of years to be victimized by one conquering army after another. What we are engaged in is a civil war. Like Vietnam. Only with the caveat that we believe we must hang in there to prevent al-Qaeda and Isis to reestablish themselves. This could go on another 50-100 years. They will ultimately wear the foreigners down. As in Nam, We will eventually depart.

  • Naseer says:

    This is a Gorilla fight for the Taliban. Of course, once you fight a Gorilla fight, no body know about your lost and win, without yourself. There is no record nor a committee to see how many of the Taliban killed as well. This is why claiming by one side and unconfirmed allegation by media should not be published unless you mentioned indications of these could be wrong. I am breathing in Kabul I see the fight and loses of lives with my eyes. I cannot tell you how many of these soldiers went to the war unwilling because of the poor economic condition in the country. If we could not return a smile to their families, we should also avoid the false report of their deaths as well. I could not confirmed with all sources I have in the ground this much fatalities to the commandos.

  • Verneoz says:

    Have you ever lived or worked there? It is a vile country. The people are corrupt, and swear allegiance to any despot who comes by to oppresses them. Young boys are raped. Bestiality is common place. Women & girls are used as slaves. American college professors whose career it is to denigrate Western civilization should be forced to move to Afghanistan and see what multiculturalism really is about.

  • Thomas Price says:

    I find this statement some what comical, “In a country such as Afghanistan, with high illiteracy rates, the pool of recruits for these elite units is already small.” You don’t have to be literate to fight back! If that were the case the Colonials would have laid down for England. The Native Americans were seen as illiterate, although they were pretty much exterminated they still fought back. I say we get smart like the Russians and pull chocks.

  • Barry M Blechman says:

    Suggest you change your journal’s name to “The Never-to-End War Journal.”

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I am talking about more highly trained units, that have higher levels of training and standards. I don’t disagree with you that having the will to fight back is the most important factor, something the regular ANA doesn’t seem to have in quantity.

  • Russell Worth parker says:

    Having worked with the Afghan Commandos, (as well as the ANP, NDS, ANA) etc, they’re great. Relatively speaking. That said, an Army requires honest leadership, a functioning personnel system, assignment policies based on something other than tribal and familial alliances, and confidence that the institution cares about the people within it. It’s hard to have faith in something that doesn’t care about you. There were some amazing soldiers with ANASOC, but those men are hamstrung by the systemic failures.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Exactly, here they were set up to fail, and it shows. Thanks for your informed comment.

  • jim says:

    The easy part to capacity building is developing a functional fighting force, for example, ANASOC and the Commandos. The difficult challenge is the whole of government approach that builds functioning political and judicial systems as well as the security and intelligence bureaucracies necessary to administer and support the highly trained warriors. We are exceptional at the first part……..not so much with the second part.

  • Verneoz says:

    I agree. “the whole government approach” is the most difficult task. A foundation of a “rule of law” culture has to be built and equally applied. Off of that, the other government institutions to serve the people can be built. The people have to want this…or failure is inevitable. Without rule of law, no outside investments, no innovation, and no freedom to create.


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