Afghan Biographies

Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF)

Name Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF)
Ethnic backgr.
Date of birth
Function/Grade Background
History and Biodata

Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) are the ANDSF’s primary
offensive forces. The ASSF include a number of elements, such as the ANA Special Operations Corps (ANASOC), the General Command Police Special Units (GCPSU), and the Special Mission Wing (SMW).

Overall misuse of ASSF elements, which has been the main impediment to their ability to successfully carry out their missions, is declining. Misuse occurs when MOD or MOI orders the ASSF to conduct operations that are more appropriate for the conventional forces or assigns them other inappropriate tasks. Examples of misuse include using special forces to man checkpoints, hold terrain, or provide personal security for politicians or ANDSF leaders.

While misuse is generally declining, it remains an important prob-lem. For example, NSOCC-A, the element that advises the ANASOC, told SIGAR Mar 2020 that, in one type of misuse, about 1,200 (6%) of roughly 19,000 ANASOC commandos are currently manning checkpoints instead of conducting offensive operations. (In June 2019, about 3,000 commandos were on checkpoint duty.) An additional 2,500 commandos are currently serving in other inappropriate conventional roles, mean-ing that a total of at least 3,700 ANASOC commandos (around 20% of the force) are being misused.

Similarly, the NSOCC-A continues to report problems with the misuse of the Special Mission Wing (SMW), the special-operations aviation unit that supports counterterror and counternarcotics ASSF missions. Because the SMW is designed and trained to have more specialized skills than the AAF, Afghan leaders frequently task the SMW with general support missions that the AAF are meant to conduct.

The extent of the problem is apparent in the breakdown of mission sorties provided by NSOCC-A Mar 2020. In January and February 2020, the SMW conducted 321 stories, nearly half of which (155, or 48%) were general support missions for ASSF and non-ASSF units outside the SMW’s mission set, with the other 166 sorties were appropriate (145 counterterror, 12 counternarcotics, and nine counternexus missions, which have both a counterterror and counternarcotics purpose).

DOD said misuse or overuse persists for several reasons, including convenience, necessity, and politically motivated operational decisions. Because of misuse, the ANASOC has been unable to conduct an operational-readiness cycle (to train, refit, and rest), an important and necessary process usually undertaken during the winter to gear up for the higher oper-ational tempo in the spring, according to ANASOC advisors.(20200100)

However the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) and Afghan Air Force (AAF) remain the most capable forces in the ANDSF and continued to demonstrate operational and tactical proficiency.

Last Modified 2020-10-19
Established 2020-10-19