The Taliban overran two military bases, one in the provincial capital of Uruzgan, and another in the northern province of Faryab, over the past several days. The Taliban continues to press its successful attacks on the Afghan security forces even as they withdraw from more remote areas to defend more populous areas.
Afghan officials confirmed that the Taliban overran a small base in Tarin Kot in Uruzgan on the night of Nov. 3, Pajhwok Afghan News reported. The Taliban, in statements released on Voice of Jihad, claimed it attacked and overran two police bases in the city, killed 8 Afghan police and captured 16 more. Additionally, the Taliban said it seized two “APCs” (likely up-armored HUMVEEs), and a quantity of rifles, machine guns, ammunition and other supplies during the raids.
In Faryab province, the Taliban overran a public order police base that is “situated between Sherin Tagab and Dawlatabad districts,” Pajhwok reported. Three policemen were killed and 17 more were captured, while “four tanks, two rocket launchers, other weapons and thousands of bullets” were seized, Afghan officials told the news agency. The Taliban claimed it killed 3 policemen and captured 19 more during the fighting.
Afghan officials also noted that the Taliban now controls all of the roads and police security checkpoints on the main highway leading from Maimana, the provincial capital, to the district of Dawlatabad. This highway is the main link to Sherebghan, the capital of Jawzjan province.
“The contact between Dawlatabad and Shergin Tagab districts is broken, no village or area is under the government control. The fall of the last base means the two districts are besieged,” an Afghan official noted.
Afghan security forces began abandoning bases in Faryab province at the end of the summer, and security in the province has progressively worsened.
Taliban attacks on bases such as the ones over the weekend in Uruzgan and Faryab have become all too common. These attacks are occurring across the country, and not just in isolated regions. And often many of these attacks do not appear to be reported in the Afghan press. For instance, in Khakrez district in Kandahar province last night, the Taliban claimed it killed 14 security personnel after overrunning a base. While the report cannot be independently confirmed, the Taliban has accurately reported on such incidents in the past.
The Afghan military and police, on the advice of the US military, have begun to withdraw from some of the more remote police checkpoints and military bases across Afghanistan in an effort to preserve its forces and reduce casualties, which are at an all time high. The idea is that the Afghan security forces are defending indefensible outposts and rural areas with supposed little strategic significance, and taking high loses doing so. Instead, the US military says, the Afghan forces should focus on defending Afghanistan’s population centers.
However, as the Taliban assault in Tarin Kot shows, as well as recent Taliban incursions into Ghazni and Farah cities, this strategy has its limitations. Ceding rural areas to the Taliban only enables the Taliban to use these remote areas to recruit fighters, operate training camps, tax the residents, spread its radical ideology and launch attacks on more populous areas under government control.