Taliban storms fourth Afghan base this month

The Taliban stormed yet another Afghan military base overnight, this time in the western province of Farah near the border with Iran. All but three of the border policemen manning the outpost were either killed or captured, according to reports.

Farah is the fourth military base to fall to the Taliban in just the first six days of November.

The base, manned by an estimated 50 Afghan border policemen, “was the most equipped border post in the province and was responsible for securing the highway and border areas,” according to ATN News.

Local officials from Farah province said that 20 policemen were killed and 30 more were captured, while only three managed to escape. The Taliban looted the base and seized a large quantity of war supplies.

In a statement released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban confirmed its forces attacked the base and claimed that it killed 30 policemen and captured 20 more.

The Taliban has met little resistance when targeting significant military outposts. Yesterday, the Taliban destroyed a newly established joint Afghan police and military outpost in Ghazni province, and killed 13 security personnel in the attack. Over the weekend, the Taliban killed eight Afghan soldiers and captured 16 more in an assault in Uruzgan’s provincial capital, and killed three policemen and captured 17 more after it overran a public order police base in Faryab.

The Taliban has been relentless in attacking Afghan security personnel across the country; its attacks are not relegated to one area or region. These attacks are having a significant impact on the morale of Afghan security forces. According to the latest report by the Special Investigator General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), “ANDSF [Afghan National Defense Security Forces] strength this quarter is the lowest it has been in the third quarter of the year since 2012.”

“The ANDSF strength decreased by 1,914 personnel since last quarter and by 8,827 personnel since the same period last year,” SIGAR noted.

The decrease in ANDSF force strength is attributed to several factors: casualties, failure to reenlist, and defections. However, most of the casualties that occurred between May 1 and Oct. 1, 2018 “came as a result of either checkpoint operations (52%) or patrolling (35%). Trends indicate that the number of checkpoint casualties is increasing while the number of patrol casualties is decreasing,” the military told SIGAR.”

This means that Afghan security forces are beginning to hunker down on their bases and reducing the number of offensive and presence operations that are designed to keep the Taliban reacting to the ANDSF.

The Taliban is responding by taking the fight to Afghan forces at bases and outposts, and is inflicting high casualties on the ANDSF. This is, in turn, leading to a decrease in the number of ANDSF personnel at a time when they are needed the most.

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

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