USA Today, 5 December 2013
A telling piece about how transition to the ANSF and the US withdrawal looks in practice:
"Highway 1 is more than just a dusty asphalt road. It … is supposed to be an example of the success of the 12-year effort by multinational forces to end Taliban control and showcase the ability of the Afghans to handle their own security. But insurgent attacks are regular occurrences, and there is a question whether it can ever be ready for a withdrawal of U.S. troops … A recent epidemic of Taliban attacks on NATO fuel convoys along Highway 1 has slowed the pace of the U.S. withdrawal from Wardak and acts as a constant reminder to Afghan and U.S. forces that the Taliban has not been defeated. … The U.S. military has been forced to send more troops to Highway 1 to combat a resurgence of violence.
Wardak was a centerpiece of the U.S. troops surge ordered into the country by Obama in 2009. It was the first province to receive surge troops… A semi-official militia called the Afghan Public Protection Force maintains security for the convoys. But the militia can't, or won't, confront attackers who regularly target the trucks as they pass through the villages of Salaar and Haft Asyab. … The insurgents divert the trucks, steal their fuel and set them ablaze. Columns of smoke visible for miles are a usual sight, done to signal to residents that the Afghan National Security Forces cannot protect them…
As the summer fighting season began, the Taliban came out hard on Highway 1. Surprised by the attacks, the U.S. military moved an additional company of soldiers into southern Sayedabad district. Packed with troops, Combat Outpost Soltan Kheyl soon looked more like a base at the height of the surge rather than a drawdown. …
It's not just Taliban marauding over the highway. The black market trade in stolen fuel is an inducement to thieves as well. … "We think it's going to get worse," [an Afghan police officer] says. "There's going be more firefights, there's gonna be more enemy, we are gonna lose a lot of people."
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020