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War in Afghanistan (2015–present)

War in Afghanistan
Part of the war in Afghanistan (1978–present),
the NATO-led war in Afghanistan

ISAF troops changing mission and beginning the Resolute Support Mission
For a map of the current military situation in Afghanistan, as of 23 October 2015: see .
Date 1 January 2015 – present (1 year, 6 months and 5 days)
Location Afghanistan
Status
  • Withdrawal of ISAF forces
  • Taliban insurgency continues in some parts of the country
  • Security taken over by Afghan security forces
  • NATO implements a support mission
  • Continued counter-terror operations by NATO forces
  • ISIL establishes a presence in Afghanistan, and begins to recruit fighters[1]
  • The Taliban overrun Kunduz, becoming the first major Afghan city to be under Taliban control since 2001
  • US indefinitely commits ground combat units in 4 garrisons
Belligerents

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Allied militias

Coalition:

Taliban

  • [5]

Supported by:
 Pakistan[6][7]

  • ISI
    (Denied by Pakistan)[8]

 Iran[9][10] (Disputed)[11]


Allied groups


Taliban splinter groups

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[1]


Allied groups

Commanders and leaders

Ashraf Ghani
(President of Afghanistan)
Abdullah Abdullah
(CEO of Afghanistan)
Abdul Rashid Dostum
(Vice-President of Afghanistan)
Mohammad Mohaqiq
(Deputy CEO of Afghanistan)
Atta Muhammad Nur
(Governor of Balkh Province)
Bismillah Khan Mohammadi
(Defense Minister of Afghanistan)
Sher Mohammad Karimi
(Chief of Army Staff)
Coalition:

Akhtar Mansoor
(Supreme Commander)
[14]
Sirajuddin Haqqani
(Deputy of the Taliban)
[15]
Haibatullah Akhunzada
(Deputy of the Taliban)
[5]
Jalaluddin Haqqani
(Leader of Haqqani Network)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
(Leader of HIG)
Ayman al-Zawahiri
(Emir of al-Qaeda)


Mansoor Dadullah
(Commander of the Dadullah Front)[16][17]

Haji Najibullah
(Commander of Fidai Mahaz)[18]

Hafiz Saeed Khan  
[19](ISIL Emir of Wilayat Khorasan)
Mullah Abdul Rauf 
(Deputy Emir)[20][21][22]
Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost
(Top Wilayat Khorasan commander)[23][24]

Usman Ghazi[25][13]
Strength

ANSF: 352,000[26]

RSM: 13,000+[27]

Taliban: 60,000
(tentative estimate)[28]

HIG: 1,500 - 2,000+[32]
al-Qaeda: 50–100[33][34]


Fidai Mahaz: 8,000[18]
 ISIL: 2,000+[35]
Casualties and losses

Afghan forces:

  • 5,000+ killed[36]

Coalition

  • 16 American soldiers killed[37]
  • 5 Nato/ISAF soldiers killed[38]

Taliban

  • 6,000+ killed[39][40][41]

ISIL

  • 300+ killed[21][20][42][22]

Civilians killed: 58 (2015–present)[43][44]

The War in Afghanistan (2015–present) refers to the period of the Afghanistan and transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government via a ceremony in Kabul, marking the beginning of the new phase of the conflict.[47][48]

The planned partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, as well as NATO troops, and the transfer of many combat roles from NATO forces to the Afghan security forces occurred between 2011 and 2014. A bilateral security agreement was signed between the US and Afghanistan that would allow NATO troops to remain after the withdrawal date in an advisory and counter-terrorism capacity.[49] The NATO troop presence would amount to approximately 13,000 troops including 9,800 Americans.[50]

Contents

  • Background 1
    • Withdrawal of Western troops 1.1
  • Conflict history 2
    • 2015: Afghan forces take the lead 2.1
    • Kabul Parliament attack 2.2
    • Taliban negotiations 2.3
    • Camp Integrity attack 2.4
    • Kunduz Offensive 2.5
  • Afghan Security Forces 3
    • Afghan National Army 3.1
    • Afghan National Police 3.2
  • Allied militias 4
    • Anti-Taliban militias 4.1
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Background

Withdrawal of Western troops

As early as November 2012, the U.S. was considering the precise configuration of their post-2014 presence in Afghanistan.[51][52] On 27 May 2014, President Barack Obama announced that U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan would end in December 2014. A residual force of 9,800 troops would remain in the country, training Afghan security forces and supporting counterterrorism operations against remnants of al-Qaeda. This force would be halved by the end of 2015, and consolidated at Bagram Air Base and in Kabul. Obama also announced all U.S. forces, with the exception of a "normal embassy presence," would be removed from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.[53] These plans were confirmed with the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan on 30 September 2014.[54]

The Special Operations Joint Task Force – Afghanistan, the remnant U.S./NATO special forces organisation, includes a counter-terrorism task force. In the words of the U.S. Special Operations Command Factbook for 2015, this task force '..[c]onducts offensive operations in Afghanistan to degrade the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and the Haqqani Networks in order to prevent them from establishing operationally significant safe havens which threaten the stability and sovereignty of Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States.'[55] This task force is similar to previous forces such as Task Force 373.

Conflict history

2015: Afghan forces take the lead

On 5 January, a suicide car bomber attacked the HQ of EUPOL Afghanistan in Kabul, killing 1 person and injuring 5. The Taliban claimed responsibility.[56] On January 15, Afghan security officials arrested five men in Kabul in relation to their suspected involvement in the 2014 Peshawar school massacre in Pakistan.[57] In mid-January 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant established a branch in Afghanistan called Wilayah Khorasan and began recruiting fighters[1] and clashing with the Taliban.[58][21] However, an Afghan military officer stated that he believed the Afghan military could handle any threat that the group presented in the country.[1]

American forces have increased raids against "Islamist militants", moving beyond counter-terrorism missions. This is partially due to improved relations with the United States due to the Ghani presidency. Reasoning used for these raids include protecting American forces, which has been broadly interpreted.[59] One raid, a joint raid by American and Afghan forces arrested six Taliban connected to the 2014 Peshawar school massacre.[60] American Secretary of Defense Ash Carter traveled to Afghanistan in February 2015;[61] during a period when it was discussed that the U.S. would slow down its withdrawal from Afghanistan.[62]

In February 2015, the headquarters element of the U.S. 7th Infantry Division began to deploy to Afghanistan.[63] It will serve as the Resolute Support Mission's Train Advise Assist Command - South headquarters. It will be joined by 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.[64]

On 18 March 2015, Hafiz Wahidi, ISIL's replacement deputy Emir in Afghanistan, was killed by the Afghan Armed Forces, along with 9 other ISIL militants who were accompanying him.[42]

On 19 March 2015, it was reported by Reuters that the U.S. military bases in Kandahar and Jalalabad are likely to remain open beyond the end of 2015, a senior U.S. official said, as the Federal Government of the United States considers slowing its military withdrawal to help the new government fight the Taliban. The anticipated policy reversal reflects U.S. support of Afghanistan's new and more cooperative president, Ashraf Ghani, and a desire to avoid the collapse of local security forces that occurred in Iraq after the U.S. withdrawal there.

On 25 March, the Afghan National Army killed twenty-nine insurgents and injured twenty-one others in a series of operations in the Daikundi, Ghazni, and Parwan provinces.[39]

Heavy fighting has occurred in the Kunduz province,[65][66] which was the site of clashes from 2009 onwards. In May, flights into the Northern city of Kunduz were suspended due to weeks of clashes between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban outside the city.[67] The intensifying conflict in the Northern Char Dara District within the Kunduz province led the Afghan government to enlist local militia fighters to bolster opposition to the Taliban insurgency.[68] In June, the Taliban intensified attacks around the Northern city of Kunduz as part of a major offensive in an attempt to capture the city.[69][70][71] Tens of thousands of inhabitants have been displaced internally in Afghanistan by the fighting. The government recaptured the Char Dara district after roughly a month of fighting.[72] In the Southern Helmand province, a roadside bomb killed 19 people.[73]

Kabul Parliament attack

On June 22, 2015, the Taliban detonated a car bomb outside the National Assembly in Kabul, and Taliban fighters attacked the building with assault rifles and RPGs.[74][75] A Taliban fighter driving a car loaded with explosives managed to get though security checkpoints before detonating the vehicle outside the parliament's gates. Six Taliban insurgents with AK-47 rifles and RPGs took up positions in a construction site nearby.[76] Members of Parliament were evacuated to safety, while security forces battled the insurgents in a two-hour gun battle. Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said all seven attackers were killed by police and no MPs were wounded.[77] The UN mission in Afghanistan said a woman and a child were killed in the attack, and forty civilians were injured.[78]

Taliban negotiations

Chinese officials have declared that Afghan stability affects separatist movements in the region, including in China's West[79] as well as the security of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.[80] China and Pakistan have been involved in negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.[79][81][82][83][84]

The bombing of the Kabul parliament has highlighted fractures within the Taliban in their approach to peace talks.[85][86]

Camp Integrity attack

50 people, including one U.S. service member, died in a Taliban attack on Camp Integrity in Kabul in August.[87]

Kunduz Offensive

In late September, Taliban forces launched an attack on the northern city of Kunduz, seizing several outlying villages and entering the city. The Taliban stormed the regional hospital and clashed with security forces at the nearby university. The fighting saw the Taliban attack from four different districts: Chardara to the west, Aliabad to the south-west, Khanabad to the east and Imam Saheb to the north.[88][89]

According to the Guardian the Taliban had taken the Zakhel and Ali Khel villages on the highway leading south, which connects the city to Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif through Aliabad district. The Taliban reportedly made their largest gains in the south-west of Kunduz, where some local communities had picked up weapons and supported the Taliban.[88] Taliban fighters had allegedly blocked the route to the Airport to prevent civilians fleeing the city.[90] One witness reported that the headquarters of the National Directorate of Security was set on fire.[91]

Afghan Security Forces

Afghan National Army

U.S. policy called for boosting the Afghan National Army to 134,000 soldiers by October 2010. By May 2010 the Afghan Army had accomplished this interim goal and was on track to reach its ultimate number of 171,000 by 2011.[92] This increase in Afghan troops allowed the U.S. to begin withdrawing its forces in July 2011.[93][94]

In 2010, the Afghan National Army had limited fighting capacity.[95] Even the best Afghan units lacked training, discipline and adequate reinforcements. In one new unit in Baghlan Province, soldiers had been found cowering in ditches rather than fighting.[96] Some were suspected of collaborating with the Taliban.[95] "They don't have the basics, so they lay down," said Capt. Michael Bell, who was one of a team of U.S. and Hungarian mentors tasked with training Afghan soldiers. "I ran around for an hour trying to get them to shoot, getting fired on. I couldn't get them to shoot their weapons."[95] In addition, 9 out of 10 soldiers in the Afghan National Army were illiterate.[97]

In early 2015, Philip Munch of the Afghanistan Analysts' Network wrote that '..the available evidence suggests that many senior ANSF members, in particular, use their positions to enrich themselves. Within the ANSF there are also strong external loyalties to factions who themselves compete for influence and access to resources. All this means that the ANSF may not work as they officially should. Rather it appears that the Resolute Support Mission.[98] Formal and informal income, Munch said, which can be generated through state positions, is rent-seeking – income without a corresponding investment of labour or capital. 'Reportedly, ANA appointees also often maintain clients, so that patron-client networks, structured into competing factions, can be traced within the ANA down to the lowest levels... There is evidence that Afghan officers and officials, especially in the higher echelons, appropriate large parts of the vast resource flows which are directed by international donors into the ANA.[99]

Afghan National Police

The Afghan National Police provides support to the Afghan army. Police officers in Afghanistan are also largely illiterate. Approximately 17 percent of them tested positive for illegal drugs in 2010. They were widely accused of demanding bribes.[100] Attempts to build a credible Afghan police force were faltering badly, according to NATO officials.[101] A quarter of the officers quit every year, making the Afghan government's goals of substantially building up the police force even harder to achieve.[101]

Allied militias

Anti-Taliban militias

The two largest anti-Taliban militias are the mainly Tajik-led Jamiat-e Islami and the Uzbek-led Junbish-i-Milli. Jamiat-e Islami was active during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the following civil war in Afghanistan.[102] Junbish-i-Milli was also involved in the civil war in Afghanistan. Both groups were members of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.

Junbish-i-Milli is led by former General and current Vice President, Abdul Rashid Dostum. Atta Muhammad Nur, the Governor of Balkh province in Afghanistan serves as a prominent leader within Jamiat-e Islami, and has been responsible for mobilizing Jamiat forces against the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. He has been joined by Dostum to form a coalition to fight the Taliban in the north.[103][2]

See also

References

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