Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Developing ANSF’s Capabilities

Afghan Air Force (AAF) showcased its warplanes on Friday at a special ceremony held in Kabul. Speaking to the Afghan Air Force readiness performance program, President Ashraf Ghani said that, in the field of politics, the Afghan government would protect the achievements of the armed forces gained at the battlefields. Ghani once again reiterated his commitment to revive the Afghan Air Force (AAF), criticizing the disintegration of the former Afghan Air Force as result of short-sightedness and lack of commitment. Strengthening AAF has been a key priority of the national unity government since its takeover two years ago. Government officials say the US is set to deliver more warplanes to AAF. The government believes empowerment of the air force would have drastic impacts on the battlefields and turn the tide in favor of government forces fighting the insurgent groups.
The government eyes on the air force to help the government forces more effectively in fight against the insurgent groups in 2016. However, the capabilities of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have drawn attentions in recent weeks as the Taliban are preparing to launch a new offensive this year. US military commanders overseeing training of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) say that the forces suffer a number of shortcomings in capabilities in the fight against the insurgent groups. According to deputy chief of staff for communications for NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, the ANSF need to develop four capabilities to be successful in the anti-insurgency campaign. The capabilities, as put by the commander, are a readiness cycle, reducing the number of checkpoints, making leadership changes, and filling the force’s ranks.
With the spring fighting season coming closer, concerns over the prospect of security in the country are increasing. The government has made it a top priority to strengthen the fledgling air force in a hope to better counter the upcoming wave of insurgency. The national unity government has taken major steps forward to reenergize efforts for equipping and training AAF. India and the United States have started to make major contributions to rebuilding AAF with providing warplanes and other equipment. The recent efforts for strengthening AAF would definitely enable the force to play a considerable role in the war efforts against the Taliban.
However, they are far from sufficient to ensure that the ANSF would have the capabilities and resources to effectively fight the Taliban. In addition to strengthening AAF, the government needs to concentrate on bringing reforms to the leadership of the armed forces and management of the war efforts. The government needs to recognize the fact that for turning the tide in favor of the ANSF in the fight against the Taliban, it would require a robust and sound leadership of the war efforts and effective military strategies. The government needs to reconsider its war approach, bring reforms to the leadership of the security agencies as well as military units directly fighting the insurgents.
However, the constraints of the ANSF have not been limited to lack of a robust and fully functional AAF supporting ground forces fighting the Taliban. Afghanistan’s ground forces also suffer major shortcomings in capabilities and restrictions in resources. The Afghan government has done a good job in persuading the international community to better support the ANSF particularly AAF. However, the national unity government has much been blamed for lack of proper management in the war efforts and the leadership of the security forces. Army and police forces suffer high rates of casualties in the fight against the Taliban. Along with the losses on the battlefields, this has resulted in desertion of soldiers from the army and police ranks. This is a major issue for the ANSF, undermining the efforts to put an end to the attritions and develop sustainable security forces.
When judging the performance of the government, though, it should be taken into account that the national unity government took over at a time when many new challenges started to develop and threaten long-term stability of Afghanistan.
However, it also cannot be ignored that some faulty military strategies and shortcomings on the side of the government undermined the anti-insurgency campaign and resulted to poorer leadership and communications in the army and police forces. There have been serious instances of mismanagements over the management of the anti-insurgency campaign across the country.
There have been widespread criticisms from the observers, NATO commanders and other military experts over the faulty approaches of the authorities to the campaign against the Taliban offensives. These make Afghan security and defense forces highly vulnerable in the ongoing campaign against the insurgent groups.
US military commanders have time and again warned that the ANSF suffer lack of proper leadership, recommending bringing changes to the senior ranks of the army. Readiness of the ANSF in timely responding to Taliban activities has long been questioned. In instances of Taliban mounting major offensives, there has been an apparent lack of quick response on the side of the security agencies resulting to casualties and catastrophic military setbacks. What the ANSF crucially need is to improve coordination in the chain of ground units, the commanding officers and the central headquarters. The higher leadership of the military and the commanding officers need to be able to make time-manner strategic decisions over the war issues. This is vital for seeing real differences in the counter-insurgency campaign.