COMBAT death statistics suggest the Afghan army is allowing Australian and other international forces and local police to do all the fighting in Oruzgan province, with officials confirming no Afghan soldier was killed in battle in the province this year.
During the same period, a highly trained Australian special forces veteran has been shot dead and dozens of local police killed - mainly in roadside bomb attacks or assaults on checkpoints in the south central province
The statistics were revealed as the Australian government announced on Tuesday it would start formally handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan National Army in Oruzgan.
On Sunday, tribal elders had alleged collaboration and an unofficial truce between the Taliban and Afghan soldiers in parts of Oruzgan after Australian Special Air Service Sergeant Blaine Diddams was shot dead during a raid in Qala-e-Naw, about 20 kilometres from Tarin Kowt, on July 2.
They complained Afghan soldiers had suffered almost no roadside bomb attacks yet police were constantly being hit and they suspected insurgents of getting tip-offs from the Afghan army.
The Afghan army vigorously denied the allegations but the Herald this week obtained confirmation that since the start of the year about 30 to 40 police have been killed - many of them in Chora, the neighbouring district to where Sgt Diddams was killed.
Oruzgan Afghan army Brigadier-General Zafar Khan confirmed that in the past six months no Afghan soldier had been killed in combat but four Afghan soldiers had been wounded this month.
However, he denied police were doing more fighting, saying they were more vulnerable because they lacked the resources and training of the army.
''The police are a bit careless. They get into the car and drive and they are hit by an IED [improvised explosive device]. We have better equipment so we can search for the mines,'' he said. ''Also they [the soldiers] have advisers and mentors from the Australian forces.''
It is understood the Afghan army had four or five fatalities in an IED strike earlier this year.
A spokesman for Oruzgan Police, Fari Hayel, said between 30 and 40 police had been killed and about 90 wounded in the province over the past six months.
The statistics were backed up by the Chora district police commander, Mullah Nematullah, who said in Chora alone in the past six months about 17 officers had died. Both police officials did not comment on allegations of a truce between the army and the Taliban.
But tribal elder Haji Mohammed Zahir, who is from the Dar Afshan area where Sgt Diddams was killed, said the army was even refusing to fight alongside the police when attacks were taking place on police posts about 500 metres away from the army posts.
Australian soldiers have had an uneasy relationship with their Afghan allies following incidents where soldiers turned their guns on their mentors.
The Qala-e-Naw village where Sgt Diddams was killed is only a few kilometres to the southeast of where the Australians established Combat Outpost Mashal, where Lance Corporal Andrew Jones was shot dead by a rogue Afghan soldier on May 30 last year.
Last night the ADF said it was aware Afghan soldiers had been killed in the province this year, but refused to provide details.