Local officials in Faryab province on Tuesday confirmed that in the last two weeks the Afghan National Army (ANA) deserted their bases in parts of the province without defending themselves against insurgents.
The officials said the soldiers have left their bases in the Qaisar-Almar and Maimana-Jawzjan highways and have stationed themselves at other bases in district centers in the last few days.
On Monday, an army convoy that had left Ghormach district in the province and was heading to Qaisar district was ambushed by the Taliban.
The number of soldiers in the convoy was reportedly between 350 and 400 but their clash with the Taliban continued for three hours.
According to the Defense Ministry, 20 soldiers were killed and wounded in this incident.
Faryab Governor Naqibullah Fayeq admitted that the morale among soldiers is low - especially after the collapse of a base in Ghormach recently.
“The morale of soldiers has been affected,” the governor said. “Taliban came from Darzab district with high morale. They launched propaganda campaigns and we lost areas without any fighting,” Fayeq said.
However, Gen. Amanullah Mobib, the 209 Shaheen Army Corps Commander in Balkh, gave another reason for the army’s decision to leave the bases in Faryab.
“Outposts were in bad condition. They (the soldiers) were ordered to leave the bases to receive better training and equipment,” said Mobib.
The Ministry of Defense meanwhile said the soldiers in Faryab and other parts of the country have left their bases based on the four-year security plan.
“Based on the four-year security plan which will become a six-year plan as we have obtained financial support (for it) at the Brussels (summit) through to 2024, insecurity, relocation of army and other security plans are implemented in accordance with this plan and there is no other issue,” said Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.
Recently, security agencies have come under harsh criticism by the people and analysts in acting against planned attacks by insurgents including the one in Ghazni. At least 100 government forces, half of them well-trained commandos, went missing following a Taliban attack on their outposts in Ghazni’s Ajristan district.
Kunduz officials said the Afghan forces are also facing a high casualty rate in the northern province.
“They (Taliban) have repeatedly stormed army bases over the last month and have killed around 40, 30 and 50 soldiers in every base,” said Amruddin Wali, a member of Kunduz Provincial Council.
The high casualty rate among security forces in recent months has become a serious concern for government.