Fact: The Afghanistan National Army Special Forces (ANASF) is the most overused force in Afghanistan.

I have personally worked with several Kandaks (units), and their training, motivation, and ops schedule vary greatly. A Special Forces Captain will often be visiting, building rapport, and convincing their unit commander to do more operations.

These Kandak commanders struggle to do more operations. They are overused and motivation is typically low. U.S. Special Forces cannot go on operations without them and need them to lead from the front; however, I have yet to see or hear about this ever happening. After being in the country working with them for nearly two decades, they still cannot conduct operations on their own and heavily rely on the U.S. military for air support and superior firepower.

Secrecy and insider threats are a genuine concern for U.S. Forces. Two SF soldiers from 7th SFG(A) were killed last week and many more were injured by partner forces in a Green-on-Blue attack. Because of this, frequently, only the ANASF Commander knows beforehand where the ANASF will operate. This leads to very vague planning by the ANASF, while U.S. SF teams go through a very detailed and deliberate planning process.

During an operation I conducted with the ANASF, in the middle of a firefight, greatly outnumbered by Taliban fighters, the ANASF went into a compound, took off all their gear, and started eating lunch. I quickly approached their lieutenant to ask what was going on, and his response to me was, don’t worry, the Americans will take care of it. I didn’t have time at the moment to debate this with him; however, it later forced me to think about what he said and what led him to say such a thing.

The bottom line is that the U.S. has been the massive backbone of operations for so long that the Afghans rely on us. And why wouldn’t they? I’ve never seen an Afghan jet flying around, providing air support. Seemingly every time we bring their pilots to America to train, they go AWOL and are never found again. Can’t say I blame them.

Training is non-existent. The U.S. forces aren’t contributing any training ammo to train these forces further. And all their ammunition is going towards operations. While they go through their selection process and are better than their regular army brothers, anything more than simple infantry tactics is non-existant. The red-amber-green cycle has been established to achieve and sustain technical and tactical competence and maintain training proficiency at an acceptable level. Red being time off and leave, amber being training and green being operations. While this seems like a reasonably simple cycle, it often gets very murky. In theory, three companies could rotate over a period of time. However, I have never seen this accomplished. With attrition, leave, schools, and deaths, often, companies are scambled together with the Afghan SF teams’ hopeful and favorite guys.

After nearly two decades of fighting in Afghanistan, it doesn’t seem as though there is any real progress. The Washington Post revealed that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence showing that the war had become unwinnable. Since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, more than 2,400 have died there, and more than 20,000 have been wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures.