As U.S. heads for the exits after two decades in Afghanistan, the Taliban surges

Even many Afghans who want the U.S. forces to stay acknowledge their own troops must fight better.

“The Americans made our lives very easy,” said a senior Afghan officer who dealt directly with U.S. commanders and spoke on the condition that he not be identified. “Now it’s our responsibility, and it’s very hard.”

In Wardak province, a 30-minute drive from Kabul, a half dozen police and army bases have fallen in recent months along the highway to the capital, some without a fight, says Sarda Wali, a 22-year-old police commander.

Sometimes Taliban commanders send text messages to government troops, advising them to flee before an impending attack, he said. Many soldiers comply, fearing the Taliban will surround them without food, water or ammunition.