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What Afghan Soldiers Think About U.S. Troop Withdrawal and Taliban Peace Talks

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Afghan security forces gather in mid-January at the site of a powerful truck bomb attack, claimed by the Taliban, which killed four and wounded over one hundred.

KABUL, Afghanistan — As the world watches peace talks between the Taliban and United States representatives in Doha, Qatar, Afghans are acutely aware of how much is on the line for their country—especially members of the Afghan National Security Forces.

The men and women of the ANSF have spent the last 18 years fighting for two countries: their homeland, and the United States. As bodies were still being recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in 2001, Afghans fought shona ba shona, “shoulder to shoulder,” with U.S. forces to push the Taliban out of Afghanistan. 

Eighteen years later, both America and Afghanistan find themselves far short of their goals to create a peaceful future for the country without the Taliban. Few Afghans I spoke to expressed confidence in a military solution to the now 18 year war. Those in the military continue to suffer the majority of casualties, even as civilian casualties have reached their highest levels since 2009. On January 25th, President Ashraf Ghani revealed that 45,000 Afghan security personnel, including policemen and those in the army, have been killed since U.S. forces ceased offensive operations in Afghanistan in 2014. The casualty rate for Afghan security forces was described to me by a U.S. official as “unsustainable.” 

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