Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) remain cohesive and confident despite significant casualties, demonstrating tactical superiority over insurgents and maintaining consistent control over populated areas, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
The ANSF capacity to execute large, combined combat operations across the country with minimal coalition assistance continued to improve, the Pentagon informed the US Congress in its semi-annual report.
It said the capabilities of Afghan forces were best reflected in the successful conduct of the presidential elections. However, the report noted that despite substantial progress, the ANSF continued to face several challenges.
“ANSF logistics and sustainment capabilities remained underdeveloped, Afghan National Army (ANA) attrition was higher than its target and corruption continued,” the document added.
Although the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) continues to develop their capabilities, ANSF require more time and effort to close four key high-end capability gaps that will remain after the NATO mission ends on December 31: air support; intelligence enterprise; special operations; and security ministry capacity
International funding and coalition force assistance will be critical to sustaining the force after 2014, the report explained.
“If a runoff election is required, securing it during the summer fighting season will be a major test of the ANSF,” the Pentagon said, noting opinion polling during the reporting period showed Afghans remained optimistic about their country’s trajectory.
However, the ANSF need for post-2014 assistance, the president refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the consequent lack of US and NATO presence decisions, and simultaneous political, security and economic transitions generated uncertainty throughout Afghan society.
“The Taliban tried to capitalise on Afghan uncertainty and fear of abandonment by the coalition through propaganda, without much success,” the Pentagon said, adding sustained ISAF and ANSF counterterrorism operations prevented Al Qaeda’s use of Afghanistan as a platform.