KABUL, Afghanistan – Recent high-profile attacks against innocent Afghans, thriving economic centers, and even charitable organizations exhibit both the shifting tactics of the enemies of Afghanistan and their willingness to commit war crimes and murder.
"Taliban must choose between Islam and terrorism, between humanity and barbarism,” said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Jan. 29. "Those who consider themselves Muslims and Afghans must now separate themselves, in words and actions, from those barbaric puppets of religious manipulators and intelligence agencies.”
As the capital city recovers from the recent wave of insurgent attacks, the ANDSF is pressuring insurgents throughout the country with renewed resolve. Afghan forces pursue and destroy the terrorist networks bent on causing destruction and chaos in Afghanistan, and NATO remains resolute in its support of their efforts.
"We are with Afghanistan and we will stay with the Afghan people. We have a great partnership with the Afghan security forces and the Afghan government, and the coalition is here to serve all of the Afghan people. Their forces have the momentum,” said General John Nicholson, Resolute Support commander.
"Our mission is boosting troop numbers, which really means that our Train, Advise and Assist mission will go even deeper inside the schooling and education system, and with the forces on the battlefield,” Nicholson added.
More than 650 Afghan National Army soldiers earned their place in the 24th Commando Qualification Course (CDOQC) at the ANA Special Operations Command School of Excellence (ANASOC) at Camp Commando January 24. This Commando class is part of a deliberate force generation model that will yield an additional 4,000 Commandos by the spring.
"Afghan Commandos have never lost a battle against the Taliban, and they never will,” said Nicholson. "They are the most feared and respected force in Afghanistan today, and they’re the best special operations force in the region.”
Next week, a third CDOQC course will begin at Camp Commando, bringing the total of Commandos in training to 2,500. On February 3, the Cobra Strike Maneuver Course will open at Pol-e-Charki with 650 Commandos providing the special operators their first collective training with the Mobile Strike Vehicle.
"The enemy is scared from the Commandos' fury,” said President Ghani during his visit to ANASOC on Jan. 19. "It is because of you we are winning the war."
The ANDSF continue to make progress in the operational environment, as well, with the 1st Brigade, 215th Corps achieving significant advances during operation Maiwand 10 in Helmand province to finish out 2017. Currently, the Afghan National Army 215th Corps, the 505th Zone National Police, and the National Directorate of Security are coordinating efforts to destroy Taliban insurgents in the Nad’Ali and Marjah districts during Operation Maiwand 11.
During operations, the ANDSF stopped two suicide bombers before they managed to carry out deadly attacks using car bombs.
Afghan and U.S. forces also worked together to target and kill three of the four Taliban leaders in Helmand province, continuing a campaign of pressure on the insurgents and their support networks where they previously had enjoyed relative safety.
On January 25, Commandos from the 3rd and 9th Special Operations Kandaks led a team of Afghan Special Security Forces on a nighttime raid, capturing Taliban weapons and nearly a half-million dollars in narcotics in Kajaki district, Helmand province. The seized drugs included 124 kg of raw opium, 85 kg of heroin, 7 kg of black tar heroin, and 28 kg of morphine base valued at $471,480.
"The Taliban has turned into an organization that profits from the drug trade,” said NATO Resolute Support Commander Gen. John Nicholson in November 2017.
In persistent, combined offensive operations, Afghan Commandos supporting the 209th Corps’ 20th Division soundly defeated the Taliban in engagements north of Kunduz city during fighting Jan. 15-20. The Commandos and ANA soldiers removed 87 Taliban fighters from Kunduz, demolished 39 emplaced IEDs, seized four IED caches, captured more than 40 anti-vehicle mines, and destroyed nearly 250 kg of homemade explosives.
This is the second significant combined operation in the past two months conducted by the 10th Special Operations Kandak and the 20th Division in Kunduz province.
In December, the forces concluded a series of focused offensive operations resulting in the removal of 101 Taliban fighters in Imam Sahib district. Over the course of five days, the special operators and soldiers removed four local Taliban leaders, and destroyed 87 defensive fortifications.
Supported with armored vehicles from the ANA’s 20th Division, along with Afghan National Police and the Afghan Local Police, Commandos from the 10th Special Operations Kandak killed 22 Taliban during fighting in Imam Sahib district, Kunduz province, in December. The ANDSF launched this large-scale clearing operation in Kunduz after the end of the traditional "fighting season,” and have continued to apply military pressure on the Taliban, IS-K, and other insurgents.
Afghan forces succeeded in denying the Taliban their stated objectives for 2017, which focused on the capture of provincial district centers.
"We can no longer wait for peace to come to us,” said President Ghani at a press conference January 29. "We must win it through collective national resolve.”