Photo: Reuters/Omar Sobhani
Photo: Reuters/Omar Sobhani

Taliban insurgents have penetrated Afghan security forces compounds on many occasions and killed personnel en masse. In Ghazni province recently,  about two dozen elite commandos were killed fighting the Taliban. The National Directorate of Security and the Ministry of Defense have, however, done little to prevent attacks against security personnel.

On November 5, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani conferred medals on security officials at a gathering in Kabul. But in light of their failure to stop ongoing attacks, do these security officials really deserve to be awarded medals?

The people of Afghanistan understand that the Taliban are a dangerous and destructive force that cannot easily be stopped, but they must also understand that these attacks will continue if the officials responsible for security do not step up their efforts to protect personnel.

On multiple occasions, the Americans have bombed civilian areas, turning the public against them and creating recruitment opportunities for the Taliban

At the core of this security problem is a lack of professionalism and this must be addressed before citizens lose faith in the government and take matters into their own hands by arming themselves, which could lead to anarchy.

Currently, Afghanistan receives 3.7$ billion security aid from the United States to cover security costs, but this is insufficient. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are not just fighting Afghan Taliban insurgents but also transnational terrorist groups that are undermining the security of the Afghan state. The Afghan government should advise the US on how to implement security reforms and in return, the US should speed up the training of Afghan Special Forces units in order to improve the effectiveness of combat missions around the country.

What needs to be done?

First and foremost, the Afghan government should secure even the remotest villages in the provinces, ensuring that every citizen is under the protection of the state rather than non-state actors. The Taliban are strong enough to contest areas but they lack national support for their cause. If they had such support they would have their offices in Afghanistan, not in Qatar or Pakistan.

Second, security is severely affected by a lack of effective coordination between the US and the ANDSF. On multiple occasions, the Americans have bombed civilian areas, turning the public against them and creating recruitment opportunities for the Taliban. This must be addressed.

Third, the US should provide modern equipment and weapons to the ANDSF to strengthen both its ground and air capabilities. At the same time, the Afghan government must take steps to reform national security institutions and support the Afghan Special Forces, integrating it with other security elements.

Fourth, all areas of Afghanistan face both internal and external threats, but the government must focus more on the external ones. In addition, it must address instability by building a stronger state through political and economic development.

Finally, the Afghan government and its American backers must engage with regional countries, because transnational criminals are a threat not just to Afghanistan but the entire region. With Washington’s backing, regional governments should take measures to help Afghanistan to achieve stability. It would be in their security interest to do so because the Taliban threat could spread elsewhere. Their aim is to Talibanize the entire region.

Ihsanullah Omarkhail

Ihsanullah Omarkhail is a PhD candidate in the field of non-traditional security management at Zhejiang University, China. His research areas include terrorism, peace, state building, and China-US competition.

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