WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2010 — The commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan today praised the Afghan defense ministry for growing its army ahead of schedule, while NATO forces confirmed the death of a senior Taliban commander killed in fighting with Afghan and international troops.
Afghanistan has reached its goal of 134,000 trained Afghan soldiers two months ahead of schedule, marking a milestone in the counterinsurgency strategy, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said.
Less than six months ago, Petraeus said, Afghan army strength stood at about 107,000 trained soldiers, with a target of reaching 134,000 by October. He called the pace of growth “remarkable.”
“Increasing the size and capability of the Afghan security forces is a central element of the joint Afghan-ISAF strategy to increase security for the Afghan people in areas challenged by the insurgency,” Petraeus said. “Such security provides the foundation on which local governance can be developed, basic services for the people can be improved, and a brighter future for the next generation of Afghan citizens can be built.”
Petraeus’ comments came as ISAF officials today confirmed that a combined force of Afghan and ISAF troops killed Malauwi Ghulam Haideri, a senior Taliban commander, and Mulauwi Sher Agha, a Taliban facilitator, during an Aug. 4 operation.
During the operation, officials said, an hour-long fire fight that resulted when insurgents engaged the assault force left at least 14 insurgents dead. No Afghan or coalition forces were hurt.
The assault force searched the area and found and destroyed 26 rocket-propelled grenades, multiple automatic weapons, grenades, a recoilless rifle, an antipersonnel mine and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
In other operations in Afghanistan:
— Afghan and coalition forces killed nine insurgents during operations in Wardak province today. The forces came under enemy small-arms and rocket-propelled-grenade fire from multiple positions, including a vehicle. Two U.S. Air Force F‑16s provided close-air support with 20 mm cannon fire. No civilians were injured.
— An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected Taliban insurgents in Kandahar province yesterday, including a cell commander who directed and facilitated suicide-bomber attacks in Kandahar City. After questioning the targeted compound’s residents, the assault force detained the commander and other suspected insurgents. High-explosive material was found and destroyed at the scene. The security force did not fire their weapons and protected women and children.
— An Afghan and coalition force detained two suspected Taliban insurgents in Wardak province’s Chak‑e Wardak district yesterday while in pursuit of a Taliban subcommander responsible for bombing, direct-fire and kidnapping operations along Highway 1. The security force found and confiscated a sniper rifle and a shotgun, did not fire their weapons, and protected women and children.
— An Afghan and coalition security force killed two suspected insurgents and detained several more Paktia province’s Zurmat district yesterday while in pursuit of a Taliban subcommander involved in all phases of bombing attacks. Two armed insurgents threatened the security force outside the targeted compound. An air weapons team engaged and killed the insurgents, who were armed with automatic weapons, grenades and chest racks. After questioning the residents, the assault force detained several suspected insurgents, one of whom attempted to avoid capture by dressing in women’s attire. The force found automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades with a launcher and several hand grenades at the scene, and protected the women and children who were present.
— A combined security force detained more than 20 suspected insurgents in Zabul province’s Shamulzai district yesterday while pursuing an al-Qaida member known to bring foreign fighters into the area. The force searched a remote compound and detained more than 15 suspected insurgents after questioning the residents. A separate security force later pursued a group of suspected Pakistani foreign fighters who fled the targeted compound. After clearing the follow-on area, the force detained several additional suspects and found a rocket-propelled grenade and rifle at the scene. The force did not fire their weapons and protected women and children throughout the search.
— A combined force detained several suspected Taliban insurgents in north of the Vazirin Khugyani district in Nangarhar province yesterday while in pursuit of a Taliban subcommander involved in planning attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. After questioning the residents of the targeted compound, the assault force detained the suspected insurgents. The security force did not fire their weapons and protected women and children who were present.
Also yesterday in Afghanistan, three Afghan civilians were killed and two were wounded when their vehicle struck device roadside bomb in Ghazni province’s Waghaz district. Another Afghan civilian was injured in an an insurgent bomb blast in Helmand province’s Nahr‑e Saraj district, and an insurgent bomb in Khost province’s Bak district killed two Afghan civilians was and wounded another.
Two Afghan children were killed and one was injured yesterday when insurgents fired at coalition forces in Logar province’s Baraki Barak district with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. The wounded child was evacuated to a nearby hospital for medical care.
Also, insurgents fired four rocket-propelled grenades at a mosque near Asadabad in Kunar province this morning. One RPG broke windows and knocked down a tree, but no one was injured.
Compiled from International Security Assistance Force and ISAF Joint Command News Releases