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Afghan Governor: The Taliban Are 'Going To Win' If Death Toll Continues To Rise
A provincial governor in Afghanistan says the Taliban is "going to win" if the death toll among Afghan security forces — which the New York Times reports is double the average from two years ago — continues unabated.
“The Taliban don’t want peace, because they think they can win the war,” Baghlan Province Governor Abdul Hai Nimati told the Times. “If it goes on like this, they’re going to win.”
He added: "There is a risk that even this province will collapse if we don’t get support. Until now, we have no reserve. Every man we have is fighting without any rest for 10 days now, and getting no sleep, and they’re tired.”
The quote from Nimati is part of a larger analysis by the Times' Rod Nordland, which examined the death toll among Afghan forces and why official reporting on it was classified secret in 2017. The Pentagon acknowledged that during that time Afghan casualties had "steadily increased."
The Times' analysis said roughly 200 to 400 Afghan forces were killed over a one-week period earlier this month. (It reported that the top American commander, Army Gen. Austin S. Miller, said in a recent meeting with diplomats that 400 Afghans had been killed, while inquiries to 23 Afghan district officials revealed there were 193 deaths among Afghan soldiers and police.)
Army Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for the Resolute Support mission, told Task & Purpose that Miller was “reflecting on Afghan sacrifice over a several-week period. He was relaying a sense of urgency to the team and encouraging focus on the mission.”
“This is a fight, of course casualties are a concern," Butler continued. "We’re helping the Afghans work through the proper array and employment of the force so that they can protect themselves while securing their country.”
On Sunday, Afghan Defense Minister Tariq Shad Bahrami said more than 500 Afghan National Army soldiers had been killed in action over the past month, according to Tolo News.
“Unfortunately, the army had 513 martyrs, 718 injured, and 43 taken as captives in the last month, but the enemies’ losses are four times higher,” he told Afghan senators.
Casualties have averaged 30 to 40 per day in recent months, senior Afghan officials told The Times.
The rising toll has affected morale in Afghan ranks, in addition to making recruiting much harder. The head of recruitment for one province told the Times daily recruits in his province was about half of what it was last year. Another from Helmand province said they usually see only two or three potential recruits per day.
“Sometimes we don’t see any recruits for weeks,” Abdul Qudous told the Times from Helmand. “People don’t want to join the army any more because the casualties are too high.”
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.
The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.
Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.
There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.
The Air Force is investigating whether an airman smoked weed at a missile alert facility for nuclear Minuteman ICBMs
The Air Force is investigating reports that an airman consumed marijuana while assigned to one of the highly-sensitive missile alert facility (MAF) responsible for overseeing Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.