How will the Lower Number of American Troops Affect the Mission in Afghanistan

 12. 08. 2020      category: Army of the Czech Republic

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper recently said that by the end of November this year, there will be less than 5,000 US troops in Afghanistan, while there are currently about 9,000 of them. How will this fact affect the mission, in which hundreds of soldiers of the Army of the Czech Republic also take part?

The information about the reduction in the number of US troops deployed in Afghanistan was also confirmed by President Donald Trump. He announced last week that by November, there will be "somewhere between four and five thousand troops in Afghanistan." There are now about 9,000 American troops in Afghanistan. The lower number of troops is a reaction to the US agreement with the radical Taliban movement, which expects the withdrawal of American troops and allies within fourteen months from signing the agreement. It was signed in February this year. Theoretically, the mission in Afghanistan would be fully completed by April next year. However, what is important are the results of the Taliban's negotiations with the Afghan government.

usmc_af
Picture: The main objective of the US invasion of Afghanistan was capturing Osama bin Laden and other members of al-Qaeda, the destruction of the Islamist Taliban regime, which supported al-Qaeda and provided it with a safe base. | U.S. Marine Corps, Cpl. Austin Long

A lower number of American soldiers in the country does not necessarily mean a lower number of armed forces. However, as is well known, there is still a significant, although unknown number of so-called contractors, in other words mercenaries, who are still abundant in this country. Their work has often been criticized, especially by the Blackwater company (now Academi). The imaginary reduction in the number of soldiers can then be compensated by the contractors.

Czech soldiers now operate mainly at the HKIA base, i.e. in Kabul. The guard service at the Bagram base is a thing of the past. Members of the 601st Special Forces Group from Prostejov also operate in Afghanistan and move across the whole country. Furthermore, the VP KAMBA unit operates in Kabul, the task of which is to protect and defend the building of the embassy of the Czech Republic.

img_13284
Picture: On April 30, 2020, the last group of 39 members of the 13th BAF Guard Company returned from Afghanistan. | army.cz

Basically, it can be said that our presence in Afghanistan is also limited and the number of Czech soldiers is being gradually reduced. The mission in Afghanistan is progressively being replaced by the mission in Mali. It can be expected that, like the Americans, the Czech troops will soon clear the territory and completely leave Afghanistan, after many years.

The war in Afghanistan has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives over its duration. According to IPPNW estimates, there have been about 220,000 casualties. The Taliban, al-Qaeda and other offshoots count their losses in tens of thousands, the assessed number is about 72,000. Almost 4,000 coalition troops were killed, and about 1,200 contractors. And about 24,000 coalition soldiers were injured. The Afghan national armed and security forces have reportedly lost more than 10,000 members. This bloody war also claimed the lives of Czech soldiers.

KUC7530aa_2638639250_2006089882756052_69033099
Picture: A number of ACR soldiers died or was seriously wounded here over the course of the war in Afghanistan. | army.cz

It must be admitted that despite various political statements, the war in Afghanistan has essentially no winners, only losers. Currently, the Taliban have more than 50 % of the country's territory under their thumb. Over the years of fighting, there have been a number of upheavals, but none have been significant enough to make a lasting difference. It can be expected that there will be various observers, but the mission as such in Afghanistan is coming to an end.

 Author: Martin Šiška