The Taliban has taken a 'horrific' toll on Afghanistan's police and soldiers, but the country's president still says the Taliban is losing

Master Sgt. Felix Figueroa/NATOThe Taliban has killed more than 28,000 Afghan police and soldiers over three years, a heavy toll that is raising questions about whether the US-backed government can sustain these losses.
  • Over the past three years, more than 28,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been killed, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani revealed this week in a rare admission.
  • “Since 2015, still much regrettable, but the entire loss of American forces in Afghanistan is 58 Americans. In the same period, 28,529 of our security forces have lost their lives,” the president said,
  • Hamid Karzai, former Afghan president, told the Associated Press that the blame for these losses rests on the shoulders of the US.
  • Coalition bombing is at a 5-year high, according to the latest airpower report from US Air Forces Central Command, and the year isn’t out.

The latest reports on the war in Afghanistan seem to contradict the government assurances that victory is within reach, painting a picture of a bloody conflict with no end in sight.

Over the past week, 242 Afghan security force members were killed in brutal engagements with Taliban insurgents, The New York Times reported Thursday. Over the weekend, militants almost wiped out an elite company of Afghan special forces in an area considered the country’s “safest district,” and officials told Voice of America Thursday that more than 40 government troops were recently killed in Taliban attacks near the border.


Read More: The most elite US-trained forces in Afghanistan routed by the Taliban, another sign the war is a lost cause

Over the past three years, more than 28,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been killed, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani revealed this week in a rare admission.

“Since 2015, still much regrettable, but the entire loss of American forces in Afghanistan is 58 Americans. In the same period, 28,529 of our security forces have lost their lives,” the president said, according to the Times. For Afghanistan, this figure works out to roughly 25 police officers and soldiers dying each day.

“Are the losses horrific? Yes,” he added, saying that this does not mean the Taliban are winning.

But there are real questions about whether the scale of these losses is sustainable.

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis highlighted just how devastating the war has been for the Afghan security forces in a speech late last month. “The Afghan lads are doing the fighting, just look at the casualties,” he explained. “Over 1,000 dead and wounded in August and September.”


Read More: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed at least 500,000 people, according to a new report that breaks down the toll

The Afghan government controls or influences only 55.5 per cent of the country, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) introduced in its most recent quarterly report to Congress, noting that this is the lowest level of control in three years. In Nov. 2015, the government controlled or influenced 72 per cent of the country.

Hamid Karzai, former Afghan president, told the Associated Press that the blame for these losses rests on the shoulders of the US.

“The United States either changed course or simply neglected the views of the Afghan people,” Karzai told the AP. His views reflect what has been reported as a growing aversion for the NATO mission.


Read More: The war in Afghanistan looks bleak as the government loses more control and Afghan security force casualties rise

Signs that the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating come as the US and its coalition partners ramp up their air campaign against Taliban forces. Coalition bombing in Afghanistan is at a 5-year high, according to the latest airpower report from US Air Forces Central Command, and the year isn’t out.

US Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top US commander in Afghanistan who narrowly escaped an assassination that left two senior Afghan officials dead and a US general wounded, recently told NBC that the war in Afghanistan “is not going to be won militarily. He added that the “the Taliban also realises they cannot win militarily,” a view that may not be shared by Taliban commanders.

Staff writer Caitlin Foster contributed to this report.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.