Publication: The Military Balance 2017
14 February 2017
At the beginning of 2016, it was assessed that the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) had incurred about 20,000 casualties in the previous year’s fighting – an all-time high. At the same time, the Taliban’s brief seizure of provincial capital Kunduz was a significant shock for Kabul.
Over the winter of 2015–16 the United States, other NATO members and Afghan forces attempted to learn lessons from the 2015 fighting, focusing on improving the leadership, intelligence and logistics capabilities of the different arms of the ANDSF and their ability to coordinate with each other. An effort was made to bring the Afghan forces back up to strength, in particular 215 Corps in Helmand Province, where some units had been reduced to below 50% strength. Meanwhile, the delivery of Super Tucano light-attack aircraft and MD 530 armed multi-role helicopters went some way to improving the capability of the Afghan Air Force.
The Afghan forces’ campaign plan for 2016 included pre-emptive attacks against concentrations of Taliban and ISIS forces, followed by sequenced major operations, initially in Kunduz, then in Helmand, before finally switching to eastern Afghanistan. The number of static checkpoints was reduced in order to release Afghan troops for these offensive operations.