Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesman Dawlat Waziri on Thursday reiterated the Afghan forces' continued need for financial support and extended military assistance from the United States in order to combat militant groups effectively.
"We are still relying on financial aid from the international community, particularly cooperation from the U.S., in order to support us in training, air support and military equipment," Waziri said.
The comments come after a controversial week for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Early Monday morning, an errant U.S. airstrike mistakenly attacked an Afghan National Army (ANA) base in Logar province, resulting in the death of seven soldiers.
Seperately, Afghan military experts and political commentators have recently expressed increased concerns over the issues facing the Afghan forces in terms of weaponry and training. Regardless of the cause, however, there is no doubt that the Afghan forces have faced a tough fighting season as the Taliban and other militant groups have launched major offensives around the country since the early spring.
On the other hand, MoD officials have said rates of volunteers for the security forces have increased simultaneously, and ANA forces are currently undertaking at least five major military operations on four different fronts to suppress the militants.
According to MoD statistics, the number of soldiers serving in the ranks of the Afghan Army is around 195,000 soldiers. But independent analysts have cast doubt on those claims, arguing that the actual number is slightly lower.
"There are some principles in war laws, because a soldier - as a human - needs to relax sometimes and go for leave and the alternative for that is the reserved forces," military commentator retired General Atiqullah Amarkhail said. MoD officials have said the number of volunteers trying to join the ANA has increased from 4,000 to 6,000 people over the past month. "The number of volunteers registering with the Defense Ministry is very high; up to 7,000 volunteers took the exam for 200 seats in the National Military Academy," Waziri said on Thursday.
Since the NATO combat mission ended at the end of 2014, concerns that the complete drawdown of U.S. troops and decreased financial aid would open the door to Taliban gains have abounded. But reassurances from theWashington that the drawdown will be assessed based on realities on the ground have somewhat assuaged those anxieties.