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Afghanistan’s Special Operations Forces Transition from Division to Corps


FILE - Afghan Special Forces arrive at the airport as they launch a counteroffensive to retake the city from Taliban insurgents, in Kunduz, Sept. 29, 2015.

Afghanistan’s elite Special Operations Forces officially transitioned from a division to a corps, as part of a four-year security plan aimed at vastly improving the country's security forces.

“Today, it is a special day because the success you all have achieved for this nation is exemplified here,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said at the ceremony in Kabul on Sunday. “This year you defeated the enemy on the battlefield. I can see the results of your fight from last week and I see the huge improvement from last year.”

FILE - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attends Afghan Independence Day celebrations in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2017.
FILE - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attends Afghan Independence Day celebrations in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2017.

“To the enemy: our Special Forces will defeat you,” Ghani warned the militant groups that are fighting his government.

His country's forces are facing a growing threat posed by the Taliban and and Islamic State's self-styled Khorasan branch (IS-K), which emerged in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region two years ago.

U.S. Army General John Nicholson, NATO commander in Afghanistan, said the beginning of the corps would further bolster Afghan security forces’ capabilities against the militants.

FILE - Commander of the Resolute Support mission and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Army Gen. John W. Nicholson speaks during an opening ceremony of "Invictus Games" at the Resolute Support Headquarters, in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 13 , 2017.
FILE - Commander of the Resolute Support mission and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Army Gen. John W. Nicholson speaks during an opening ceremony of "Invictus Games" at the Resolute Support Headquarters, in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 13 , 2017.

“The activation of special operations corps today marks the beginning of the end for the enemy of Afghanistan. As we sit here today, Afghanistan commandos are defeating the Taliban across Afghanistan,” said Gen. Nicholson. “When these commandos appear on the battlefield, the enemy has no choice but to run or die.”

The Special Forces division, which currently consists of two special operations brigades will add two more brigades under its command and control, according to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

Shifting focus

Afghanistan has announced a four-year security plan to improve its security forces in the next few years to help beat the growing threat posed by Taliban, which recently made advances in Afghanistan and the Pakistan border region.

In addition to doubling the special operation forces from 17,000 and upgrading the division of special forces to a new military corps within the Afghan National Army structure, the four-year plan also includes “increasing aviation capabilities of Afghan Air Force and reforms inside the structure of Afghan security forces,” Ahmad Shah Katawazai, defense liaison at the Afghan embassy in Washington, told VOA.

Given the nature of the fight, Afghanistan has shifted its focus from conventional warfare to special operations.

“Most of the army offensive have been conducted by our special forces,” Afghan diplomat Katawazai told VOA.

Currently, Special Forces conduct 70 percent of the country's military operations. These elite forces are trained as quick reaction forces and conduct regular night raids against militants in various regions of the country.

FILE - Afghan Special Forces patrol at the site of a MOAB, or ''mother of all bombs'', which struck the Achin district of the eastern province of Nangarhar, Afghanistan April 23, 2017.
FILE - Afghan Special Forces patrol at the site of a MOAB, or ''mother of all bombs'', which struck the Achin district of the eastern province of Nangarhar, Afghanistan April 23, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday his administration has decided how to deal with the 16-year war in Afghanistan.

One day after meeting at the Camp David presidential retreat with his national security team, Trump tweeted, “Important day spent at Camp David with our very talented generals and military leaders. Many decisions made, including on Afghanistan,” without providing details.

Roughly 13,000 NATO troops, including 8,400 Americans, are deployed in Afghanistan, carrying out anti-terrorism operations and training Afghanistan’s 300,000 security forces.

Kabul has said that the U.S. policy should include supporting the Afghan security plan as it needs more U.S. and NATO trainers as well as additional military hardware.

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