BRUSSELS – Afghan military and security forces have suffered heavy losses in recent weeks as they take the lead in all ground combat operations against insurgents, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said Tuesday.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, attending a NATO defense ministers’ conference in Brussels, said Afghan government forces lost 104 personnel in one week during intense fighting with the Taliban.
“The Taliban came out, and they are doing exactly what they said they would do,” Dunford told reporters. “High-profile attacks, insider attacks against the Afghans and fear and intimidation.”
He praised the Afghan troops, saying their performance in battle “exceeds what we thought it would be a few months ago. The challenges they’ve had against the Taliban, they’ve absolutely confronted those and not had an issue.”
Dunford said the Taliban’s “strength and their ability to operate is less than what it has been in the past.” But he said Taliban fighters still launch cross-border attacks from neighboring Pakistan.