WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (UPI) —
The losses suffered by Afghanistan’s National Security Forces is unsustainable, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command said Wednesday.
According to U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, ANSF has lost 9,000 members since the beginning of 2013, a number that is "not sustainable in the long term."
The U.S., by comparison, has lost 2,346 troops since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001.
"Their first priority right now is to get their recruiting back up," Anderson told reporters via video conference from Kabul, citing the fact that Afghanistan’s police and army forces have filled only 89 and 81 percent of their slots respectively.
He also identified areas for improvement in the fields of counter-IED tactics, medevac procedures and medical treatment.
Despite the high morbidity rate, vacancies, and need for improved procedures, Anderson expressed confidence in the ANSF.
"The Afghan National Security Forces are winning. And this is a hugely capable fighting force who have been holding their ground against the enemy."
President Barack Obama has announced that America’s military presence in Afghanistan will be reduced to about 9,800 troops by the end of 2014, with full military withdrawal expected beyond 2016.
Military leadership has, however, hinted at a more significant and extended role for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
"Do I come back and do I alert my leadership and say we are coming down to this number, we need to hold a little bit longer … and we need more NATO forces in certain locations for longer?," U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of ISAF, said in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine. "I’ve got to do that analysis, and we’re just starting that now."