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2 notes on Afghanistan and the failure of COIN
Posted by on July 5th, 2011

From our partners at

By Dave Anderson:

Just two notes about all the happy talk in Afghanistan.

The first is from the Globe and Mail:

While foreign forces have come under few attacks in recent weeks in Panjwai, the traditional hot-weather fighting season this year is more violent than last year’s when combined Afghan and NATO troop levels were just reaching their peak.

As in previous years, Afghan civilians are the primary victims and Afghan government officials the Taliban’s avowed prime targets.

In the first five months of the year, the number of violent incidents in the province increased by 34 percent compared to the same period last year, according to an analysis by the security company, Indicium Consulting. Incidents, in its analysis, include shootings, suicide bombings and attempted and successful roadside bombs.

Another group that tracks insurgent violence, the Afghan NGO Safety office, reported this week that attacks by insurgents this summer across Afghanistan have already surpassed the 2010 peak.

So higher levels of violence and attacks are occurring despite Peak Foreign Forces being reached to "clear" while the ANA and ANP are supposed to "build" themselves up to "hold" newly "liberated" territory from local miltias and Taliban insurgent groups.

And now from Danger Room:

The air war is back, according to U.S. military statistics, and in a major way. During Petraeus’ year on the job, coalition warplanes fired their weapons and dropped their bombs on 5,831 sorties. It’s a 65 percent increase from the 3,510 attack runs flown in the previous 12 months. And there’s no sign of a let-up. There were 554 lethal flights in June, compared to about 450 each in June of 2009 and 2008.

It’s yet another sign that the “population-centric” counterinsurgency strategy, popularized by Petraeus and executed almost too faithfully by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is being phased out in Afghanistan. Instead, the focus is on taking individual militants off the battlefield; “counterterrorism,” in military parlance.

And we are doing this, on the whole, to settle local disputes and political score-settling. Why not get the hell out and let the Afghans settle the score as the US funds something that resembles localized reconstruction instead of the Karzai syndicate's retirement villas on the Riveria.

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