As more Afghan units take field, casualties increase.
More than 1,000 Afghan soldiers died in 2012, a 20 percent increase from 2011, as the Afghan government prepares to take over security from coalition forces.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — The Afghan government has hit a grim record in its quest to take over the country’s security from coalition forces: more than 1,000 soldiers died in 2012, a roughly 20 percent increase from 2011.
Though the Afghan army’s death rates have outstripped those for international forces in recent years, the new figures show the widest margin yet, as more and more Afghan units have taken the field — international troops were reported to have lost about 400 soldiers in 2012, the lowest number since 2008.
The progress of the Afghan army in being able to fight the insurgency is crucial to the international coalition’s exit strategy as the formal end of NATO combat operations looms in 2014.
Afghan officials say Afghan forces now plan and lead 80 percent of combat operations across the country.
And as the army has filled out its ranks, the number of those killed has risen as well.
Since 2008, the number of enlisted ANA soldiers has nearly tripled, to 195,000.
But depending on how one reads the numbers, the latest figures can be both hopeful and troubling.
Inasmuch as the uptick in deaths indicate a more active role for the army, the data is encouraging: Afghan-led operations should result in more Afghan casualties, after all.
But for some, the statistics also raise questions about whether the army is ready to take over control of the country’s security.