According to the Wikipedia page on the Resolute Support Mission (RSM):

Resolute Support Mission or Operation Resolute Support was a NATO-led train, advise and assist mission consisting of about 7,772 coalition forces in Afghanistan, which began on January 1, 2015. It was a follow-on mission to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which was completed on December 28, 2014.

According to NATO, this mission was a non-combat mission (click on 'Resolute Support Mission' to view the following background quote):

Launched on 1 January 2015, the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) focused primarily on training, advice and assistance activities at the security-related ministries, in the country's institutions and among the senior ranks of the army and police.

The non-combat mission performed supporting functions in several areas. These included operational planning; budgetary development; force generation process; management and development of personnel; logistical sustainment; and civilian oversight to ensure the Afghan national defence and security forces and institutions act in accordance with the rule of law and good governance.

During the RSM, the US military provided air support to Afghan forces fighting the Taliban. According to the New York Times on May 6th, 2021:

The United States has continued limited air support to Afghan national security forces in recent days, launching a half-dozen airstrikes as Taliban fighters stepped up an offensive in the country’s south before the full withdrawal of American troops ordered by President Biden.

Even so, Afghan ground commanders are asking for more help from American warplanes, exposing a stark reality of the war there: Even in the twilight days of the American involvement, the Afghan dependency on U.S. pilots and warplanes as backup is unquestionable.

The Pentagon is now weighing how it will wean Afghan security forces from their dependency, something that it has failed to do since 2015, when the United States formally ended its combat mission in the country.

During RSM it seems the Afghan Army was the primary ground force fighting against Taliban forces. With the Afghan Army surrendering to Taliban forces so quickly after the US withdrawal, I'm wondering if there's any data about battles between the Afghan military and the Taliban.

On paper at least, it seems the US withdrawal hasn't changed much. Since 2015 the US-led coalition supports the Afghans primarily through air support, not by running point on the ground. The US also pledged late July 2021 that it would continue providing air support to Afghan forces, according to Reuters:

KABUL, July 25 (Reuters) - The United States will to continue to carry out airstrikes to support Afghan forces facing attack from the insurgent Taliban, a regional U.S. commander said on Sunday as U.S. and other international forces have drawn down troops in Afghanistan.

To better understand the situation, I'm asking if there's any data (a timeline maybe) of battles between the Afghan military (including ones with foreign support of any kind) and the Taliban during RSM (2015-2021).

  • I upvoted, but an "overview of battles" in an insurgency is probably better measured in ground control gained/lost, because there were probably not huge set-piece battles that mattered (until this past month or so). There's an AP article from April that the war was apparently/already not going in the Kabul government's favor apnews.com/article/… Aug 20, 2021 at 0:41
  • @Fizz yea, I'm not sure if it's a reasonable request. I figure there must be some record keeping, maybe the coalition forces have a (public) record of the air strikes where they helped ANA on the ground (with some additional situation reports). Perhaps there's some academic effort to collect news reports.
    – JJJ
    Aug 20, 2021 at 0:48
  • And in something reminiscent of Vietnam, the US apparently did its best to obfuscate that its ally was losing: the published metrics kept changing to make comparisons over time difficult or impossible... Likewise was strength of the enemy/Taliban not publicly tracked since 2019 npr.org/2019/05/01/719018027/… Aug 20, 2021 at 0:49
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    Afghan security forces losses have also been classified militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/05/01/… So I guess we won't know much until such stuff is declassified... Aug 20, 2021 at 1:24
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    @Venture2099 no, I'm asking for public data. I image there might be something like my answer here about the Indian Pakistan conflict. Of course it's possible that answer might not exist, but there's a chance it's out there. Why do you think that's off-topic?
    – JJJ
    Aug 20, 2021 at 20:22

1 Answer 1


No. There is no meaningful timeline of battles between the Afghan National Army and the Taliban that can be accessed by members of the public. Even if such a timeline existed it would not be indicative of ANA performance given the myriad other factors including fixed wing and rotary support, ISTAR assets and direct combat support from NATO troops.

Also, the ANA were often rotated into different provinces in order to break familial or tribal links to the local area and to try and prevent corruption and green on blue attacks.

There are countless media reports of individual combat events which a diligent researcher may wish to aggregate into a single record but it would not be comprehensive.

There are also many reports published in open source journals, within parliamentary records and within NATO documents regarding the training and combat performance of the Afghan Security Forces. Reports include vignettes, interviews and direct testimony of their conduct under fire.

For instance: Lieutenant Colonel Gavin Keating, 'Living in the Twilight Zone: Advising the Afghan National Army at the Corps Level', Australian Army Journal, Vol. VIII, No. 3, Summer 2011.

  • Thanks. I think it would be great if you can include one excerpt of such publicly available direct testimony or combat performance assessment. I'll wait a few more days to see if someone can find such a 'diligent researcher' who has already made an aggregate record. If not and you include such a quote then I'm happy to accept a single data point as an answer. :)
    – JJJ
    Aug 20, 2021 at 20:49
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    You need to avoid or explain the jargon (rotary wing, ISTAR, green on blue, etc.)
    – Relaxed
    Aug 20, 2021 at 23:05
  • No, I don't. If people are asking for combat reports then some familiarity with these terms must exist otherwise combat reports would be near-useless. Aug 21, 2021 at 8:29

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