Numbers of troops, fighters in Afghanistan
Associated Press: Here are the estimates of the numbers of fighters with various factions and military forces in Afghanistan:
— After President Barack Obama’s drawdown orders, there will be 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan at the end of September 2012.
Non-U.S. NATO forces
— There are an estimated 40,000 non-U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Afghan Security Forces
— At the end of 2014, there is expected to be 352,000 Afghan soldiers and policeman trained to secure and defend Afghanistan.
— The Taliban governed Kabul from 1996 until they were toppled by the United States in 2001. The group grew out of the mujahedeen resistance to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and gained momentum in the chaos of the civil war that followed. Members are mostly from the Pashtun tribe and follow a strict, fundamental interpretation of Sunni Islam. Its leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, once had close ties with Osama bin Laden, but it was not clear how close the two were when bin Laden died last year. Estimates of the Taliban fighting force hover around 25,000.
— The organization is run by former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a veteran of the Afghan-Soviet war and the Afghan Civil war. Delegations have approached President Hamid Karzai with proposals for peace talks, but no agreement is likely as long as foreign forces remain in the country. Hizb-i-Islami is a radical Islamist militia that has thousands of fighters and followers across the north and east.
— Led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin, the Haqqanis operate primarily in provinces along Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said in October 2011 the Haqqanis act as a “veritable arm” of the Pakistani intelligence agency — an accusation Islamabad denied. Its leader is Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was backed by the U.S. during the Afghan-Soviet war. The group is believed to have close ties to al-Qaida and other foreign militant groups. Estimates of the fighting force are around 10,000.
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
— Also known as The Islamic Party of Turkistan, the group was formed in 1991 by a group of Uzbek nationals calling for an Uzbekistani Islamic state governed by Shariah law. A designated terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, in recent years it expanded its goal to an Islamic Central Asian State, and aligned itself with Osama Bin Laden’s war on the U.S. They are most active in a few northern provinces, and seem to have local alliances with the Taliban in North Waziristan, Pakistan. The number of IMU followers in Afghanistan is unknown.
— Founded in late 1980s by bin Laden and a Palestinian religious scholar Abdullah Azzam, the radical Islamic Sunni group’s goal is to wage global jihad against western powers and create a modern Islamic Caliphate. After finding a safe haven in Afghanistan under the Taliban, the group has expanded to include branches around the world. After bin Laden’s death last year by U.S. commandos, Ayman al-Zawahri took over the organization. U.S. officials have estimated that 100 to 200 al-Qaida fighters are in Afghanistan.
Sources: NATO, U.S. Department of Defense, intelligence estimates.