Kandahar is the spiritual headquarters of the Taliban and has great significance for them. It is also the center of the poppy growing area where the Taliban has a lot of support. On Wednesday, the Taliban struck the government base at Kandahar.

The defense ministry spokesperson General Dawlat Waziri in a statement as reported by A Jazeera News has acknowledged the attack and confirmed that the Afghan army “ bravely resisted” the attack and killed over 80 insurgents. He admitted that 26 Afghan soldiers had been killed and 13 wounded. The Taliban has claimed that over 70 government troops have been killed and a large cache of weapons seized.

Al Jazeera news channel has reported this story.

The attack

The militants attacked the army camp in Karzai area of Khakrez district of Kandahar. Eyewitness accounts have reported that a 30-strong convoy carrying “hundreds” of Taliban attacked the base. The beleaguered garrison called for air support, and this blunted the attack. It was because of this air support by the USAF that the Taliban attack was blunted and the base saved.

Ever since President Obama withdrew the US forces from a combat role in 2014, the Afghan army is beleaguered and under attack. They have suffered heavy casualties. This has had a spin off effect as the Afghan security forces have suffered high death toll with resultant desertions.

According to SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction ), 6800 soldiers have been killed in 2016 which is “shockingly high.”

Resurgent Taliban

The attacks have a familiar ring, and a resurgent Taliban has been able to replicate their attacks successfully. In April, 200 soldiers are believed to have been killed on a base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Last week the Taliban also claimed capture of two districts in the north. Kandahar‘s countryside is restive, and the city is close to the Pak border, and the Taliban can easily go across and get a haven there. Pak gave refuge to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Omar after they were ousted in 2003. Osama was sheltered for nearly six years in a safe house close to their elite military training institute at Abbottabad.

Trump and more troops

President trump has criticized Obama for the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He has now authorized General Mattis to formulate an increase in troop levels in Afghanistan. The general needs to get his act together as a resurgent Taliban by its attacks on army personnel is demoralizing the force. The Afghan army of 195,000 is woefully ill-trained and lacking motivation. Trump will have to decide on increasing troop level with a commitment to destroy the Taliban and their sanctuaries in Pakistan.