I was wrong

by Joshua Foust on 9/24/2010 · 36 comments

Earlier this week, I tried to show some optimism about the Afghan elections last weekend by saying they were less violent than the 2009 presidential election. I was wrong to do so. The Guardian reports:

The US-led coalition force in Afghanistan has conceded that last week’s parliamentary elections were far more violent than it first claimed and that the country was rocked by many more insurgent attacks than during last year’s presidential election.

The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said there were about 100 more attacks compared with the roughly 280 attacks during last year’s election.

The figures are an embarrassment for the international community which cited a decrease in violence as proof of the greater capacity of the Afghan army and police to guarantee security during Saturday’s election.

Indeed. Maybe one day soon we’ll arrive at a place where ISAF isn’t forced to “concede” reality, and it will just honestly state it. Maybe.


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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 36 comments }

Caleb Kavon September 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm

We never get any accurate count on incidents from ISAF. Every month we hear about several thousand other incidents that never get reported.

The ISAF KIA-I think we get(I think), incidents almost never, and wounded total for US forces alone now running about 600 per month is also not covered. Contractor deaths are rarely mentioned. Considering all the resources, having to estimate what is going on between tea drinking sessions with elders and is impossible to tell.

We can deduce easily however, that it is much worse than they are letting on. They are hiring the same spin doctors about this war that we use in political campaigns. Bad news comes out after they announce success, friendly fire becomes heroism, and mistruth is papered over dismal reality.

10 KM outside of Kabul becomes a War Zone and no one knows it. Does Wardak=Kandahar? They just will not say.

anan September 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm

“wounded total for US forces alone now running about 600 per month is also not covered.” Is there data on this? Where are these US Army getting wounded? Trends in violence in Helmand are down, with Platoon sized attacks on ISAF, ANA and ANP increasingly rare, so you must be referring to US Army.

“We can deduce easily however, that it is much worse than they are letting on.” I don’t agree. There have only been two significant attacks on ANSF training facilities this year to my knowledge. This suggests a significant degradation in Taliban capacity. Other metrics:
-Pashtun recruitment for the ANA remains strong. There remains a waiting list to join the ANA
-ANP training seats remain full, albeit without a waiting list.

Why would record numbers of Afghans be joining the ANSF unless they believed the ANSF would win this war?

Something like 40 K Afghans are Freshman this year versus 1 K Freshmen in 2001. About 4.5 million boys and 2.5 million girls in school versus about 1 million boys and few girls in school in 2001. This suggests that security hasn’t completely collapsed.

I don’t think GIRoA, ANSF commanding generals and ISAF are lying. The job of any government is to be the number one cheerleader in their country and to facilitate optimism among their people. Shouldn’t an ANSF commanding general demonstrate complete confidence to his soldiers that they will win the war? That is their job.

“10 KM outside of Kabul becomes a War Zone and no one knows it. Does Wardak=Kandahar? They just will not say.” Since 2001, Wardak and Logar have been massively under resourced with ANA, ANP and ISAF by design. This insecurity near Kabul is a strategic choice knowingly made by GIRoA and ISAF.

There are only so many newly trained ANP and ANA coming online every month, and the GIRoA is sending them where it sees fit. So far that hasn’t been Wardak and Logar. Caleb, to which provinces would you send newly trained ANSF?

I am curious about what affect adding more than a thousand Jordanian troops to Northern Logar has had on local security. See the Col. Johnson, Wardak Gov. Fidai and Jordanian Col. Aref briefing from 9.15.10
http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4685
Wardak’s Governor Fidai exaggerates how good of a job he has done. But then, I think that almost every Governor of almost every state in the world does the same thing. :LOL:

Any thoughts on how well the 1200 Afghan Public Protection Force [low called “local forces”] are doing fighting the Taliban in Wardak?

Grant September 24, 2010 at 6:16 pm

We also can’t trust the casualty numbers given by the news from ‘contacts’ or ‘unnamed sources’ or ‘local residents’ whenever a drone bombs something. Odds are fairly good that it’s a media savvy member of one of the local militant groups. An irritating thing about asymmetric wars for anyone who wants to study things is that both sides lie through their teeth.

Boris Sizemore September 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Caleb and Joshua are right to be upset with this. But lets analyze why they are not giving “reality” or ground truth about what is going on…

What we have seen in the past year since the surge is one of the most unsuccessful counterinsurgency campaigns in History. It appears that the Insurgents have surged and not ISAF.

Gen Petreaus and McChryistal has shown an utter inability to stop the insurgents expansion, make critical operational decisions, and impede the insurgency’s spread in any way, shape or form. If this was a game of chess, they would be losing dramatically. But its not and 600 soldiers are wounded per month or more which is why President Obama was so shocked when he saw the true casualty list last month.

Petreaus knows it. That is why he always uses the “this was an economy of force” excuse. But it does not alter the fact that the Insurgents, defeated completely in 2001, have come to this point against conceivably the best armed and capable counter insurgency force of all time.

ISAF and COIN have failed, they do not dare tell the truth. They have failed to understand their enemy, counter him and mobilize forces to stem his advance. This surge is not working, Iraq is not Afghanistan. The are simply terrified of the “reality” for in presenting it, the total failure of their campaign would be exposed.

Eikenberry, MacNeil, McChrystal and Petraeus are responsible for the success of the insurgency and the execution of a very poor game plan.

Bobby September 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm

According to Rod Powers, as of 19 June 2010, there have been 2,309 American servicemembers WIA in Afghanistan. Since the start of the war. (Compared to 30,490 in Iraq). with those numbers, it is difficult to believe that 600 per month had occurred at any point through June.

I suppose it’s possible that Caleb and Boris mean there have been 600 WIA for the months of July and August (and maybe now even September), but I would be quite skeptical of that claim, especially since neither provide us with any link to backup their claims, but apparently just expect us to accept their assertion as fact. I would love to see where they’ve derived their numbers, though.

There’s enough going wrong in Afghanistan to make a compelling argument that the international community’s efforts are failing. One doesn’t need to resort to making false claims just to do it.

–Bobby

BruceR September 26, 2010 at 2:48 am

For the record, icasualties.org has counted 5,766 US WIAs in Afghanistan up to the end of July, with 576 in that month alone.

I have no idea where Powers messed up in his figures, but you’re simply not going to have a WIA:KIA ratio of 1.7:1, so they’re clearly incorrect.

Prithvi September 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm

It’s not really on topic and more of a reference to Woodward’s new book, but I wonder what folks have to make of the US organized special forces unit composed of Afghans.

Boris Sizemore September 24, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Thanks Bobby, about the casualties, the first I heard the wounded figures on a Barbara Starr CNN report where she followed the evacuation of the wounded from Afghanistan to the US…you can look up the transcript. I am not sure how long that total has been going on…I was surprised also, but that was only the US…add up the other ISAF 40+ members not sure how high it will go up…

Bottom line…easy to say, hard to debate…ISAF is supposed to be providing security against what was described as a rag tag group of defeated insurgents…security is getting worse…whatever the rational they use to explain it….

Security is getting worse all over Afghanistan….all the data reflects that, thus more injured flying back to the states..You should watch that CNN report..very interesting, sad and upsetting…If security is getting worse…ISAF is failing, the insurgents are succeeding….fact….

Caleb Kavon September 24, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Prithvi…this supposed special unit is not really new…last year the force broke into the Kandahar jail and killed a police commander to rescue a member..It was a big incident. Karzai got involved…In Kandahar the unit is based somewhere near one of Wali’s compounds…I am not sure about the 3000 person total..but this is not new…What was interesting was the missions into Pakistan which the Pakistani Government has reacted against..

Caleb Kavon September 24, 2010 at 6:52 pm

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1008/05/cnr.06.html

This is for Bobby….!! It actually would be more than 600 if you add the British …and everyone….in 2007 in Iraq the wounded level was about the same…

This is what Joshua was saying about reality…if you cannot even honestly discuss what is happening…how do you know how to respond? This is both a life lesson and about Afghanistan…This patent disregard for the truth is a big big problem….

Boris Sizemore September 24, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Thanks Caleb….Bobby? Are you happy now?

Next time you want to dispute figures…imagine that others do know what they are talking about…or maybe they would not have said it….or do your own research and dispute it…

600+++ is a large amount of casualties…not even reported…That is what we are up against…

anan September 25, 2010 at 1:56 am

Can someone provide me statistics on American casualties in Afghanistan? Or ISAF ones?

All you need to do is e-mail: ijc.media.operations@afghan.swa.army.mil
They will probably respond to you very quickly.

Caleb, can you point to examples where ISAF knowingly lie? Revealing parts of the truth that are true is not lying. We all do it all the time.

Didn’t mean to imply momentum is on the side of the GIRoA/ANSF/ISAF. Nor is it on the side of the Taliban. This was my point. It is messy and uneven around the country. There is uncertainty around the country about who is winning.

Wardak isn’t going well. Did you read the transcript? Would be interested in your input. The ANA in Wardak and Logar is problematic. In my view among the worst in the ANA. Why this is the case is important to analyzed.

The oldest Corps in the ANA is 201st, yet it is more problematic than 203rd, 205th, 209th, and 215th ANA Corps. It doesn’t help that it has 10 provinces [Logar, Wardak, Laghman, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar, Parwan, Panjir, Kapisha, Bamiyan] to defend with only 2 formed and two forming brigades.

Several old experienced combat infantry battalions in 201st ANA Corps were rated CM-3 or CM-4 based on public source. The 201st Corps troops were problematic. This is unacceptably poor. Does anyone have any perspectives on why this is the case?

How can we intelligently discuss the war in Afghanistan without analyzing why some ANSF are doing much better and much worse than other ANSF. Yet how often does the international or even Afghan press focus on this issue?

Anecdotal accounts suggest that many good quality Haqqani [and friends] fighters are now in Southern Logar. They are engaging in very effective company and larger sized kinetic attacks. In fact, their light artillery/mortar/rocket fire and mass attacks are so effective that I suspect they have large numbers of foreign fighters serving as officers and embedded combat advisors. The Haqqanis and their allies are still surging into Southern Logar. For some strange reason ISAF/ANA are letting the Haqqanis get away with frequent large scale attacks and don’t chase after them. Logar isn’t going well.

Caleb, your point on under-resourced is an important one. In 1973 under the King at a time of prosperity, success and security, the ANA numbered over 200 thousand troops with a target of 250,000 troops. In per capita terms that is the equivalent of a 500,000 man ANA + 250,000 man ANP today. By contrast the ANA and ANP have about 140 K and 117 K today [up from about 95 K and 90 K in November, 2009.] The decision by the international community and GIRoA to under resource the ANSF is at the root of the current security challenges in Afghanistan.

A few attacks in Mazar and Ghor isn’t all bad. Taliban call attention to themselves when they do it, allowing ANSF [mostly ANSF show up in Balkh and Baghdis] to round them up. They also fuel public anti Taliban sentiment and increase the motivation of Northerners and Westerners to fight them [versus seeing Taliban/AQ as a southern problem remote from themselves.]

“66 recruits for one month is very low to say the least. ” What is this in reference to?

Joshua Novak, yours isn’t the first similar story I have heard. Sorry about what happened to your friend. Unfortunately, reducing the length of ANSF training cycles to save money on training ANSF will at the margins make the ANSF less professional and more likely to make mistakes similar to what you described.

In every Afghan poll I have ever seen the ANA has overwhelming support, usually in excess of 80% while about 90% of Afghans oppose the Taliban. One reason Afghans support the ANA against the Taliban is because Taliban foot-soldiers are often poorly trained, unprofessional, insensitive, and poorly motivated. [Taliban officers and embedded combat advisors are different.] The ANA shouldn’t follow in the Taliban’s footsteps.

The ANA is about 42% Pasthun and relatively nonsectarian/nonpartisan; but it is far from perfect.

Bobby September 25, 2010 at 11:41 am

Uh, no, actually I’m not happy at all. I’m never happy about anything relating to American Soldiers getting wounded.

Barbara Starr says at the end of her piece that “right now, we’re seeing about 600 troops a month wounded in the war in Afghanistan” — Got it. I have to believe it’s accurate at this point in time and that she would not intentionally misrepresent the number. I do, however, suspect that someone in the medical system told her “There were 600 wounded this month” and she’s reporting it as 600 wounded per month, unintentionally becoming less accurate as the former connotes a one-time statistic for that month that might fluctuate in surrounding months and the latter suggests a more constant rate that obviously only dates back a few months. Looking at the PDF provided by Simon (below) confirms my hypothesis: there were 600 in August, 591 in July, 534 in June, and fewer (substantially fewer) average wounded in action in the months before that.

Reporters (rightly) used to point out in the Fall of 2007 in Iraq, as casualties dropped substantially, that “two months does not a trend make,” although the trend later was borne out and it’s quite possible– probable even– that we’ll be seeing 600 WIA a month for the near future in Afghanistan, which is quite scary. But reporting the historical high as a per month average is quite misleading, in my opinion.

–Bobby

Caleb Kavon September 24, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Anan..makes a good point about Wardak, but underresourced provinces are most of the provinces outside of Kandahar/Helmand/Kabul so that is why we saw a suicide VBIED in Mazar e Sharif for the first time. You cannot put most of your eggs in one province or two. The insurgents just say Thank You and move with gusto into other provinces. It is not just the North, it is everywhere…even Ghor had an attack on the Lithuanians yesterday…

The Pashtun recruitment drive is another one of those early announced victories….see below..

The ANSF is critical to this whole thing…but needs a big change in everyones focus…

On the Pashtuns…see below…

http://www.aolnews.com/article/afghan-army-lacks-enough-pashtuns/19363994

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704621204575487720827425774.html

Donald Anderson September 24, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Did not know the casualties were moving that far up…Thanks for the information, which we would not get if not for you guys. Even if for a couple of months, 600 is a couple of companies injured and lost to the battle. Must be a reason that the wounded is never reported at the end of the month.

Security has not completely collapsed, it is just getting worse all the time. Something is not working.

Pamela Richards September 24, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Not sure what everyone like Bobby and Anan are so surprised about…600 makes sense…KIAs have gone down and WIAs have increased. As the Barbara Starr piece showed the care is phenomenal. If you are losing 50/60 KIA a month and have hundreds of incidents then WIA will go up. It makes sense.

Here is a good site for incident reporting:

http://www.indiciumconsulting.net/weekly-highlights

Barbara Starr the Pentagon correspondent is the first one to mention this WIA issue. The Taliban is loosing more, but they can recruit more and do not have to train and fly them around the world. Not sure how many incidents every month.

This video shows a small contact in Kunar. Two Concussions, One Minor Head injury, and one arm amputation. 4 injuries and one vehicle destroyed. Multiply this all over the country for one month 600 makes a lot sense.

http://dispatches.globalpost.com/2010/09/17/on-location-a-firefight-in-kunar-province/

Steve Maghribi September 24, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Barbara Starr should know what she is talking about. They are all correct, we never get any good information out of ISAF. The Insurgent reports no one believes, but ISAF never talks about WIA.

The plane in the video was full, and she said as they were landing there was another filling up back in Bagram. This is much worse than we are being told. One thousand incidents during one week?

Joshua Novak September 24, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Anan….You know I am big supporter of the ANSF…one little story..

Earlier this year, I was driving back to Kabul with a Pashtun friend. Apparently the French forces had just been ambushed somewhere and there was a road block.

Were stopped by several soldiers, I guess they were Hazaras. They could not speak Pashtun, and said something like “You Pashtuns cause all the trouble,” to my friend, who is a strong Government supporter. While he was saying this, a French soldier came up and stuck his gun barrel into the side of my head and pushed the barrel hard into the side of my forehead. I did not say anything.

Then they saw we had a Government pass on the vehicle, and let us go. Never apologized or anything.As you can imagine my friend was just really upset about it and the side of my head hurt.

I tried to explain to my friend that everyone was tense after the ambush, but he would not accept it. He said there was no excuse for that kind of harassment ever.

This is the kind of incident that looses support for the ANA. The language problem is also big. Rural Tribal Pashtuns do not speak Dari. Having Pashtun speakers is vital, and 66 recruits for one month is very low to say the least.

The ANSF has a long way to go. I am shocked that this ANA effort only started in earnest last year. What were they doing before? The Soviet DRA was much more efficient than this Army is today.

M Shannon September 24, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Casualties have to be put in perspective. The US loses more troops world wide from suicides and bad driving than it does Taliban violence. It’s not the fatal casualties that make this war so foolish it’s the cost- logistics, equipment replacement, long term medical and pensions. Even if the Taliban ceased operations tomorrow the damage to the US will not slow down until a massive withdrawal of both military and civilians was complete.

I believe Petraeus will continue to press for more troops and Obama will cave. The largely self inflicted damage is set to increase regardless of the state of the enemy.

Alex Strick van Linschoten September 25, 2010 at 4:40 am
Simon September 25, 2010 at 10:09 am

See here for a detailed breakdown of U.S. casualties in OEF, compiled by the DoD (scroll down to see the figures for 2010):

http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/oefmonth.pdf

More interesting figures can be found on their website. Don’t know how accurate these are though.

MaryAnn September 25, 2010 at 10:32 am

Barbara Starr’s “600 WIAs per month” figure almost certainly refers to one of two things:

1) Total number of WIAs including those with minor injuries able to be treated downrange and RTD (Return to Duty) within 72 hours. These are historically approx. 50% of all WIAs.

2) Total number of medical evacuations out of theater, including NBI (Non-Battle Injuries) and Disease/Other (a DoD catch-all category including medical conditions such as kidney stones, chest pains, cancer, psych, etc.). Historically, WIAs have accounted for approx. 25% of all evacs out of theater.

Has the number of WIAs increased this summer due to the higher number of troops in theater and the types of operations conducted? Absolutely. Let’s not forget we saw the same thing during the ‘surge’ in Iraq. Will Afghanistan turn out the same way? Only time will tell. But it will certainly be much more difficult, for many reasons.

Render September 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.”
-Otto von Bismarck

BETWEEN
THE
LINES,
R

Abdullah September 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm

PAKTIA, Sep. 25 – Some 5 US terrorists were killed and their tank destroyed by a roadside bomb in Sarozai’s Kotani Nomi area.

HELMAND, Sep 25 – At least 3 US invaders lost their lives at 01:00 pm and 4 others were seriously wounded when a mine exploded on their foot patrol as the invaders tried to come out of their base in Zirh Maktab area.

HELMAND, Sep 25 – Mujahideen from Gerimser report that this morinng 3 US tanks were destroyed one after the other, killing and wounding all invaders onboard, when IED’s exploded on their military convoy as it passing through Safaar Bazaar area near Helmand River.

BADGHEESE, Sep. 25 – Reports arriving from Badgheese say the today at 10:00 am, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate attacked an ISAF invaders base in Sang-e-Atish district using heavy and light weapons. At least 4 invaders were killed and many injured in the attack but the extent of damage caused is not known.

Caleb Kavon September 25, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Well Bobby, first of all, you said my figures were false and made up. They were not. So admit you were wrong about that. Please.

We agree on one thing. I have been injured in combat, and outside of that earlier this year sustained a concussion in Afghanistan…So I am maybe more than sensitive about injuries to our soldiers. When I heard 600 it burned in my memory. I have never heard that figure before. We never get monthly WIA.

What is the real figure, exactly…Who knows? I think Barbara Starr has even better figures than me, being at the Pentagon, I hope.

If it is 600…or 500…400…700..not much of a difference? It is a lot. And it is not getting reported. And that is my point, and Joshua’s point, we are not getting real numbers from anyone. KIA WIA are important figures, not only in cost as someone mentioned but in real lives.

Security is going down. The insurgents are expanding. ISAF does not have a good plan. The COIN operation is failing. And part of the reason they fail today is because they focus on power point slides and spinning the war, and making an argument for their program while avoiding the reality of what is going on.

They declare victory like in Marjah..and later revise the figures. They say the election violence was down, but it was up.The Spin is getting all of us very dizzy, and soldiers are suffering, Afghans are suffering, and the Insurgents have a good thing going on..

My point and my logic holds, and quibling about 600 or 700 WIA is not the key point at all, and detracts from the “reality” of what we are not getting and what is happening on the ground. I have seen the situation very very up close, and outside of the wire for a long time, and it is not pretty view.

BruceR September 26, 2010 at 2:58 am

Also this:

“Evidence is mounting that fraud in last weekend’s parliamentary election was so widespread that it could affect the results in a third of provinces, calling into question the credibility of a vote that was an important test of the American and Afghan effort to build a stable and legitimate government.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/world/asia/25afghan.html

Abdullah September 26, 2010 at 7:19 am

HELMAND, Sep, 26 – At least 2 US terrorists were killed and another 3 wounded by a blast in Haji Abdullah Block area of Marjah at 07:00 pm on Saturday night (Sep. 25).

KANDAHAR, Sep, 26 – Mujahideen in Arghandab’s Khwaja Mulk area say that a US invaders tank was completely obliterated by an IED, killing 5 terrorists onboard at 09:00 pm last night (Sep. 25).

Boris Sizemore September 26, 2010 at 9:11 am

Abdullah…..If we want these figures…we can look just like you at the The Nation website from Pakistan-These figures are even more off than the ISAF…No need to post these too.

I heard enough of the ISI position in the ASG report.

Boris Sizemore September 26, 2010 at 9:13 am

Bruce…Thanks for the figures…and the website…It helps us all track these things. Appreciate your posting of this. Thanks again

Toryalay Shirzay September 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm

The Pakis and the ultra crafty ISI now think the Americans and NATO are on the run and this is why we are poked in the face by attack reports from Arab-islamic attack dogs,aka Abdullah and the Taliban.This is not surprising given the ineffectiveness of ISAF and ANSF in field operations and their insistence on holding meaningless and fraudulent elections which does not help to solve Afghanistan’s problems.

Bernard September 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

We, here you share the figures we are familiar with.

Caleb Kavon September 26, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I check both the ISAF and Insurgent figures…every day. But having actually been to some of the reported Ambushes as they were happening. I can tell you with a calm mind that the ISAF figures are much closer than those Abdullah and The Nation and the ISI are reporting.

The problem is that ISAF lacks the skills and knowledge to digest, analyze and act correctly with the information it gets.

As confused as we are, we are still -its hard to say it…but..I will..we are still trying to do the best job we can. We can do a lot better no doubt, but the Taliban is NOT the BEST solution for Afghanistan and must be stopped sooner rather than later.

My new motto via Boris Sizemore:

“The Population simply wants us to improve security now, and drink Tea Later.”

Render September 26, 2010 at 6:04 pm

The Coalition has not lost any tanks in Afghanistan. Not one.

None of the Canadian Leopards have been lost, (some have been damaged by IED’s but quickly returned to service). None of the USMC Breachers have been lost. I don’t think any of the ANA’s T-62’s are even fully operational, (lack of spares and 115mm ammo).

Just a little note for the Talib propaganda outlets. If it doesn’t have tracks, its not a tank. Calling light armored Humvee’s and MRAP’s “tanks” is not going to improve your lack of credibility. In fact, it exposes just how weak and uneducated you really are.

SEEN
NOTHING
YET,
R

Abdullah September 27, 2010 at 4:20 am

@Boris , @Caleb
My point in posting numbers from “shahamat” (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan-Voice of jihad) site isn’t to make a claim that the stats themselves are accurate, but rather, why such claims. Does anyone take the time to notice how the stats vary(sometimes greatly) between sister sites (from the same source, even the same webmaster in most cases) in different languages. Are they bad at translating numbers? I think not. Do you really think the english sites are for the use of the Taliban, muj. and affiliates? The arabic sites are probably the more accurate from the side of the jihadees, but how can I know for sure, would be interesting to know. So why? Purely for propaganda pushing? If so, then for what reason? Do we really need to let numbers, whether 1 or 500 per month cloud us as to why we would take the time to care about issues in Afghanistan or Central Asia? I suspect that to what extent the USD devaluates over the next year will greatly influence the numbers game on both sides.

Caleb Kavon September 27, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Adullah….I always check both…. It is valuable to study, I agree. As a reference. It is important to understand what is going on. I agree. As long as you take realize both sides color the information they present for a reason. The analyst must view all the information to make reasoned judgements and see where things can be changed. Everyone should be aware of the Insurgent view point. You are correct about that.

M Shannon September 30, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Tank (pronounced TONK) is used to describe all armored vehicles and not what we’d call MBT.

Taliban claims for NATO body counts and battle damage are usually fanciful exactly like NATO claims for insurgent body counts from air strikes.

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