ISAF Walks Back Insurgent Attack Numbers, Does Not Understand the Interwebs

by Sunny in Kabul on 2/26/2013 · 2 comments

You may have heard the news that ISAF is walking back what it originally reported in January, that there was a 7% decrease in “Enemy Initiated Attacks” over the course of 2012. You may have also heard the news that said report has been taken down. I’m guessing there’s going to be a webmaster opening at ISAF very soon. Mainly because whoever’s doing such a bangup job now doesn’t know how to actually delete stuff from the interwebs. Here’s the crazy secret squirrel way I pulled this off. Ready?


That’s right, kids, I typed in these things called “keywords” and “Google” ran itself through the “series of hollow tubes” that make up the “interwebs” and “retrieved” my “file,” then “fairies” flew it across “cyberspace” and deposited it on my “desk.”

I first noticed that ISAF had taken down the links to its monthly stats a couple of weeks ago, but just assumed that it was part of how ISAF was defining “transparency” in 2013.

ISAF’s statement indicates a one-time error in the January reporting that caused them to remove that report…

The 7 percent figure had been included in a report posted on the coalition’s website in late January as part of its monthly update on trends in security and violence. It was removed from the website recently without explanation. After The Associated Press asked last week about the missing report, coalition officials said they were correcting the data and would re-publish the report in coming days.

…but that’s not the case: ISAF in their monthly reporting showed consistent decreases in EIAs going back to nearly the beginning of 2012. Which is why I, as someone who’s disturbingly interested in ISAF’s numbers, didn’t make the connection, since they were reporting regular decreases, rather than a singular decrease at the end of 2012.

I submit here exhibits A through…well, there’s exhibits. And since it’s 2013, and we can make the slideshows, enjoy. The last 3 slides are from the most recent bi-annual report that the Department of Defense makes to Congress. That shows that in September of 2012, EIAs were actually up 1% from the previous year. I probably should have caught that, but given how convoluted the 1230 metrics can be, I failed to do so.

Click to view slideshow.

So ISAF reports a steady decrease, and the DoD reports an increase. Which would lead one to the fairly troubling conclusion that whoever makes the monthly ISAF reports isn’t terribly chatty with whoever does the DoD reports to Congress.

Let’s recap ISAF’s 2012, then:

  • ISAF made an accounting error that would make Enron proud
  • No one caught it for 12 months
  • ISAF does not understand the interwebs

But not to worry, citizens: even though the number of attacks stayed exactly the same, everything is going to be fine:

Graybeal said that even though the number of 2012 Taliban attacks was unchanged from 2011, “our assessment of the fundamentals of campaign progress has not changed. The enemy is increasingly separated from the population and the ANSF are currently in the lead for the vast majority of partnered operations.”

Even though the US reduced its overall footprint by 33,000 troops, thereby cutting down on the number of targets the Taliban could attack, violence indicators stayed…exactly the same. Also worth noting? EIAs are still higher now than they were in 2009. Remember 2009? The surge that was going to fix all the things? Well, it didn’t, and now that it’s ebbed, in its wake is a coalition that can’t even handle math.

Until next time, you stay sunny, kids!

Source: Sunny in Kabul

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This post was written by...

– author of 15 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Happily married, cynic, and I long to drink the Kool-Aid. Two tours in Iraq, once as an Infantry officer, once as a Civil Affairs officer supporting a PRT. Now it's civilian development work in Afghanistan since 2009. I want to believe, it's just that the lies are so laughable.

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anan February 27, 2013 at 10:48 am

Attacks against the ANSF (included in the Enemy Initiated Attacks statistics) skyrocketed. But I wonder if all the attacks against the ANSF are being correctly recorded.

This is primarily an ANSF versus Taliban/allied groups war, with ISAF becoming more of a side-note.

anan February 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Attacks against ISAF are way down as the Taliban focuses most of their efforts on the ANSF.

ANA are losing about 120 dead a month over the winter (although we don’t know the exact number of ANSF overall, it could be close to 300 dead). Down from a peak of 550 ANSF dead in a month. Not as big a drop as seasonality would predict.

ANSF casualties have dwarfed Afghan civilian casualties:


Do you have an estimate of the ratio of additional civilians and ANSF killed per civilian death saved by the ban on CAS for the ANSF? Is it more than 10 to 1?

So far the ANA, MoI and NDS have mostly kept silent regarding the ban on CAS. Do you think they will succeed in persuading Karzai to reverse his decision?

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