Morale among some Afghan special forces is wearing thin as they are increasingly called upon to lead the fight against the Taliban, with teams feeling exploited by their leadership and missing U.S. support.
Sgt. Peer Khapalwak’s battalion has been operating alone in this western district, one of the most dangerous in the country, since the Americans left more than a year ago. During that time, the Taliban have spread from rural areas to the main town and highways, and regularly attack the governor’s office.
The sergeant has a team stationed on the top floor of the bullet-ridden building to prevent it from being overrun—a job that should normally be done by the police or army.
Instead of chasing top-level Taliban commanders in their area, other teams are routinely dispatched to deliver food to stranded police and Afghan army bases. Instead of flying around in U.S. helicopters, most of their missions are conducted by road, where they are more vulnerable to Taliban ambush and usually far from any advanced medical assistance.