The Times’ casualty report data. Official figures are rarely disclosed by officials. Some forces are also taken prisoner and others defect.

The void left by dwindling security forces has given rise to more militias — used by the government or by regional factions — that many fear will turn on the government or recruit directly from the military and police, fracturing those organizations along ethnic and political lines.

In the air force, there are enough pilots but not enough aircraft, because of overuse, battlefield attrition and maintenance cycles, said one Afghan helicopter pilot, who was not permitted to speak to the media. What aircraft are available, another pilot said, usually only go to help the special operations forces.

While the Afghan government uses small drones to watch the battlefield, one of its few advantages over the Taliban, it only has enough to cover hot spots.

But even with operational planes and armed helicopters, Afghan troops frequently complain of the air forces’ slow response: By the time an aircraft is overhead, soldiers or police need their wounded and dead evacuated, they say, not an airstrike.

Col. Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, who commands a commando regiment in the south, said that it will be near impossible to rely on the air force after the U.S. withdraws. “We must have the air support of foreigners,” he said.

Speaking from the U.S.-backed Ministry of Defense in Kabul, the capital, Gen. Yasin Zia, the army chief of staff and acting minister of defense, acknowledged the logistical and military challenges his forces face once the United States and NATO withdraw.

But, he said, “we will find a way to survive.”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff reported from Mazar-i-Sharif, Najim Rahim from Kabul and C. J. Chivers from Binghamton, N.Y. Fahim Abed contributed reporting from Mazar-i-Sharif, Asadullah Timory from Herat, Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Farooq Jan Mangal from Khost and Zabihullah Ghazi from Nangarhar.

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