US General Warns Afghan Forces’ Deaths Are ‘Unsustainable’

Officials have previously downplayed the soaring death tolls

The Afghan military is losing a lot of troops in the course of the open-ended war in Afghanistan, with recent figures revealing 28,000 Afghan troops were killed in the past four years.. Officials have previously downplayed this, with some Pentagon officials even suggesting it was a positive sign that the Afghan military’s morale hasn’t collapsed despite all these deaths.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the nominee for the next CENTCOM commander, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he sees these casualties as unsustainable.

In particular, McKenzie sought to caution against a US pullout from Afghanistan, saying he doesn’t think the Afghan forces could defend the country alone. He urged more US efforts to help the Afghans attract better recruits and train them properly.

This has been a recurring concern throughout the 17+ year war in Afghanistan. Increased US involvement in training tends to collapse quickly because of insider attacks, and the high death toll makes it difficult for the Afghan government to recruit any soldiers who have other, safer career options.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.