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Report on high attrition rates in ANSF denied

afghanistan defence ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi

KABUL – Afghanistan on Monday rejected a British media report that up to 5,000 of recruits were leaving the newly created Afghan police and armed forces every month. For every 10 new soldiers recruited to the army, at least three are lost because they have been sacked, captured or killed in action, The Independent reported.

Current attrition rates threatened the long-term effectiveness of local forces that had failed to hit recruitment and retention targets, the daily quoted British officials as saying. The rate of recruits leaving was far worse than targets set by coalition leaders, amounting to 63,000 every year, or more than a third of the current size of the army, it added.

But defence ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi spurned the report as inaccurate: “If 5,000 security personnel really quit every month, how can we realise Afghan forces’ peak strength?” he asked. He put at 190,000 the Afghan army’s current strength, saying the loss of 5,000 on a monthly basis had not been ascertained so far. The number of soldiers on leave was far less, he insisted.

“The defence minister has tasked a group with investigating all relevant factors behind attrition, including leadership, privileges, lodging and messing, leave and coordination,” he added. Ministry officials were not taken on board by the British authorities before they released the report, which contradicted top NATO officials’ claims that Afghan forces had grown in capability and strength, the spokesman said.

Afghan forces, which would take security control across the country this year, had already filled the vacuum created by the withdrawal of 50,000 foreign troops from the country, Azimi maintained. Also present at the media briefing was interior ministry spokesman Najibullah Danish, who called the report far from true. Last year, only 36 policemen resigned while 5,000 remained absent for different reasons.

In the solar year ending on March 21, 1,800 police personnel were killed and another 3,000 wounded, according to Danish, who said the current number of Afghan National Police at 175,000. (PAN)

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