WASHINGTON (AP) — Afghan security forces have suffered more battle casualties this year than last year, rising to a level that cannot be sustained in a successful fight against the Taliban, the second-ranking American commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday.
Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson told reporters at the Pentagon by video from his headquarters in Kabul that the number of Afghans killed in battle rose from 4,350 last year to 4,634 so far this year.
"No, this is not sustainable," Anderson said. "They do need to decrease their casualty rate."
The toll increased even though the number of attacks by Taliban fighters has decreased to about 18,000 this year from about 24,000 last year. Afghan government forces, on the other hand, have initiated more attacks on the Taliban this year.
Anderson said Afghans must improve the quality of medical care for wounded troops, starting at the point of injury. They also must develop more effective defenses against improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs, he said.
"All those things have to continue to improve to reduce those numbers because those numbers are not sustainable in the long term," he said, referring to Afghan battle deaths.