KABUL: The Afghan government has announced the creation of a new army corps for the north of the country where Taliban insurgents have made recent gains.
The additional troop presence is aimed at beefing up military support against increased Taliban attacks on security forces and infrastructure projects.
President Ashraf Ghani has previously said that more than 45,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in fighting with the Taliban since he took office over four years ago. Tens of thousands of other security personnel have also been injured.
According to estimates, a large number of those casualties have been in the north of Afghanistan, far away from the Taliban’s traditional areas of support in the south.
Taliban advances in the north have led to the disruption of electricity supplies to many parts of the country along with road closures, which together have proved damaging to local economies.
The insurgents’ gains have put pressure on Ghani’s government.
The government is locked in a major internal power struggle while the US steps up efforts to negotiate with the Taliban a peaceful settlement to the long-running Afghan conflict and a withdrawal of American troops.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, Zubair Arif, said: “The purpose of creating the new army corps is to provide security assurance to the (Afghan) people, counter threats of the enemy and their attacks on reconstruction projects.”
Qais Mangal, another ministry spokesman, said the extra troops would provide additional backup for other security forces during battles with the Taliban.
Abdul Rahman Rahmani, an officer for the ministry, told Arab News that eight other corps already operated in the country, including an air force and a special operations unit. There were between 32,000 and 40,000 troops in an army corps, he said.
Retired Afghan army general, Attiqullah Amarkhail, said the formation of the corps would improve security in the region “only if new tactics are put in place and a professional cadre runs it.”
He told Arab News: “It won’t have any impact if the troops lack resources, and the goal is to appoint a new post for someone in the government as a top general.”