Good Report from Afghanistan

9 Comments

21 June 2012

Reports come in daily from the military in Afghanistan.  Many have good news, but subsequent the MEDEVAC deceptions from the Army, I do not trust the current bunch and so do not bother publishing.  Yesterday, I asked Shem Klimiuk, an old Afghan hand from Australia (now in Kabul), if there is any truth to these reports.  Mr. Klimiuk responds using data from Indicium Consulting:

(Note: Today I asked Marine Lieutenant Colonel in Helmand Province if he believes Indicium to be accurate on this. "Yes.")

Despite signs that the Taliban’s influence is spreading throughout Afghanistan, international military efforts over the last 12 months have not been fruitless, as changes on the battlefield are becoming visible.  This can mainly be attributed to prolonged ISAF/ANSF operations against the Taliban’s (and other anti-government elements) logistic chains and, more importantly, their mid-level commanders.  These commanders, with their years of tactical experience, are crucial to the Taliban’s battlefield strategies, and their loss has significantly affected the Taliban's ability to continue the same level of intensity and effectiveness that characterized their campaigns from 2009-2011.

The number of coalition-led operations increased significantly in autumn of 2011, particularly in the Southern Region (Helmand & Kandahar Provinces) and the Southeastern Region (Khost, Paktya and Paktika Provinces).   The outcomes of these operations are best illustrated by the current situation in Helmand Province; due to aggressive coalition-led operations, TB/AGE [Taliban/Anti-Government Element] cells in the province have been unable to conduct large-scale operations since September 2011.

Although coalition operations have diminished somewhat in Helmand, TB/AGE cells have not been able to recover their operational momentum. Similar trends can be observed in the rest of the Southern Region and in the Southeastern Regions.  In contrast to the past trends, to gain any significant success, Taliban now rely heavily on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Suicide Attacks, and the occasional Complex "Spectacular" Attack, which are defined by their use of suicide attackers equipped with small arms and direct fire support weapons to breach and exploit high-profile government and military installations.

However, the TB’s ability to execute these Spectacular Attacks, especially in Kabul, has diminished since 2011, due to intensive coalition-led operations in the Southeast that targeted Haqqani Network (HN) cells who were responsible for much of the planning, organizing, training, and recruiting of the fighters used in the attacks.  TB will continue to use these high-profile Spectacular Attacks because of their propaganda value; although they are usually tactically unsuccessful, the attacks allow the TB to spread a false perception that their strength and organizational abilities are better than they really are.

The following is a basic 2011/2012 (up to June 17th) comparison of countrywide Taliban/Anti-Government Element Attacks and represents the total number of Taliban/Anti-Government Element (TB/AGE) incidents (includes all types of attacks, intimidation, abductions, extrajudicial killings, and assassinations):

TOTAL Taliban/Anti-Government Element (TB/AGE) incidents(Includes all types of attacks, intimidation, abductions, extrajudicial killings & assassinations):

2011: 10103 - 2012: 5198  A decrease of 41%

IEDs Total:  2011: 5133 - 2012: 2269  A decrease of 55%

Successful IEDs:  2011: 1789 - 2012: 889  A decrease of 50%

Failed IED Attempts:  2011:  3344 - 2012: 2269  A decrease of 32%

Direct Attacks:  2011:  3510 - 2012:  1787  A decrease of 41%

IEDs vs. Total No. of TB/AGE incidents:

2011:  IEDs made up 50% of all incidents

2012:  IEDs made up 43% of all incidents

www.indiciumconsulting.net

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Alex J. · 6 years ago
    It's good that the Taliban are being killed off, but how are our efforts to get Afghan peasants to love Hamid Karzai by burning their crops going?

    I'm sorry for being sarcastic, but we couldn't have gone on for so long, against such paltry opposition, without doing the wrong thing for much of the time.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Caleb · 6 years ago
    [b]"IEDs Total: ... 2012: [i]2269[/i]
    Successful IEDs: ... 2012: 889
    Failed IED Attempts: ... 2012: [i]2269[/i]"[/b]

    Seems like we should either subtract 'Successful' from Total to get 'Failed' or Add 'Failed' to 'Successful' to get 'Total'. I could be missing something or it could be a simple typo. Even if there is a typo, it doesn't take away from the report. Good job - Caleb StL
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MIchael Yon Author · 6 years ago
    CRB_STL

    Thank you for that. I have asked for clarification and will post the moment I hear back.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David Parsons · 6 years ago
    Did the Taliban reduce their IED attacks because they know "the infidels" are leaving and the Taliban will be in complete charge next year? I mean, why would they want to waste their perfectly good explosives on us any more?
    • This commment is unpublished.
      John - Capt in ANG · 6 years ago
      No, they don't hunk of it those terms. Strategically, if they had any clue, they'd have stopped attacking years ago. Why? Look at Iraq. We left. We have zero interest in long term assets staying here be there's really not much of any value here (politically, strategically, etc). We have plenty of their number one resource back home: dirt.

      They continue to fight because it's the only gig in town and a strong government (not theirs) is a threat. They control the "black markets" ( and some would point out Karzai is one of their competitors) and so a weakened public perception of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA, or the current government in power) plays into heir agenda.

      After centuries of tribal fighting here, really the fight is over perception of power. If they can make illiterate, uneducated population think they're the best gig in town, it's a win. Mid they also make the "infidels" look bad too, then it's icing on the crapcake.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        John - Capt in ANG · 6 years ago
        Sorry for typos
      • This commment is unpublished.
        David Parsons · 6 years ago
        Anyway, I could be wrong, but I'm quite sure as soon as we stop nagging the ANA about their inability to properly mimic our fighting methods, and give them the final salute on our way out the door, they'll all spit on the ground and laugh about the infidels who fought well and bravely, on behalf of their politicians who were and are still afraid to face their real enemy - Pakistan.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Dave S. · 6 years ago
        Capt John - I believe it came out a year or two ago that billions of dollars worth of rare earths were discovered there. The discovery was compared to the finding of oil in the middle east. To quote Joe Biden, "This is a big effin deal."
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John - Capt in ANG · 6 years ago
    Ill check tomorrow but, although I think the overall mood of the message is right, I think the stats are way off. They don't jive with what I see everyday. I work with the admins and am one of two trainers for JOCWatch, which is the NATO significant event reporting tools commanded by Frago (SOP302) to be used for reporting events such as IEDs. After a set period of time it goes into another system for statistical analysis, archiving, etc. So, I'm curious iwhich system they're pulling "incidents" from.

    I've purposely avoided giving specific numbers because they're on a classified system and that's really PAOs job. However, although I'd disagree that IEDs are likely decreasing, I would very strongly agree, and could back it up with numbers (at work) that their effectiveness seems to be drastically dropping. Our TTPs are quickly evolving, jammers being effective, ANA has learned "don't shoot the IEDs or put them in the back of you Ford truck," (don't laugh, you'd be amazed how many ANA used to do this)' and, in my mind, the unsung heros are the S2 folks doing forensics on IEDs. They'd put any stateside forensics labs to shame back in the states, in terms of busting crime networks (drugs, guns and IEDs). Finally, the intel and those acting on it have gotten insanely good. I owe my safety in Kabul to those men and women every day, and I am thankful every day.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      SK · 6 years ago
      John, what you must take into consideration is that we are not affiliated with ISAF or NATO in any way, and we conduct our own independent incident tracking using a variety of unclassified sources. Additionally, our stats may differ because of the way we categorize incidents, e.g. we distinguish the difference between an IED intended against ISAF, ANSF, GIRoA and affiliated bodies, or if it is more likely to be used as part of a local ethnic/tribal/personal dispute. We also do not count IEDs found in caches – that is a totally different metric that we do not implement and it significantly alters our IED statistics. Lastly, none of our data comes from ISAF, or any classified sources, so I am not surprised that ISAF stats differ somewhat from ours. As they say, there are three types of lies in the world: lies, damned lies, and statistics, but as you pointed out, our stats do indeed seem to reflect ground truth.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Jack E. Hammond · 6 years ago
      [quote name="John - Capt in ANG"]Ill check tomorrow but, although I think the overall mood of the message is right, I think the stats are way off. They don't jive with what I see everyday. I work with the admins and am one of two trainers for JOCWatch, which is the NATO significant event reporting tools commanded by Frago (SOP302) to be used for reporting events such as IEDs. After a set period of time it goes into another system for statistical analysis, archiving, etc. So, I'm curious iwhich system they're pulling "incidents" from.

      I've purposely avoided giving specific numbers because they're on a classified system and that's really PAOs job. However, although I'd disagree that IEDs are likely decreasing, I would very strongly agree, and could back it up with numbers (at work) that their effectiveness seems to be drastically dropping. Our TTPs are quickly evolving, jammers being effective, ANA has learned "don't shoot the IEDs or put them in the back of you Ford truck," (don't laugh, you'd be amazed how many ANA used to do this)' and, in my mind, the unsung heros are the S2 folks doing forensics on IEDs. They'd put any stateside forensics labs to shame back in the states, in terms of busting crime networks (drugs, guns and IEDs). Finally, the intel and those acting on it have gotten insanely good. I owe my safety in Kabul to those men and women every day, and I am thankful every day.[/quote]

      Dear John,

      This is sad to report. But the Pakistanis helped the Taliban defeat some of these IED jammers and pre-detonation units probably. And someones head at a US FOB came off because of how they did it. They had the Taliban steal one of those vehicles loaded with the electronics off the base. It seems the keys were kept in an unlocked boxes. Including the keys to the electronic counter measures vehicle. They just drove it off the base. The US military treated it like a kidnapped US soldier and put up a massive reward. No luck.

      Jack E. Hammond
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Clemens · 6 years ago
    The 2012 number are through June 17, are the 2011 numbers also through june 17 pf that year? If not a 50% reduction is no reduction at all extrapolated out for the entire year of 2012.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      SK · 6 years ago
      Clemens, yes the time periods are the same. Otherwise it wouldn't be a comparison.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Clemens · 6 years ago
        That's not completely clear in the report though. Way too often these type of numbers get manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion. If someone gave em a report like this, I'd definitely ask them to clarify this part:

        "The following is a basic 2011/2012 (up to June 17th) comparison of countrywide"

        I hope that they do represent the same time periods for both years.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jack E. Hammond · 6 years ago
    Dear Michael,

    But we all have to remember that the same reports were coming from Vietnam in the 1970-72 time period. And they were true, the South Vietnam military had vastly improved and the Viet Cong had been destroyed as a factor in South Vietnam -- ie with a few exceptions their leadership were all dead due to Colby. But the North Vietnamese waited and built up their army as a massive conventional force. The Pakistanis can do the same. Wait and build up the Taliban and the Pakistanis helping them as a conventional force. Then invade after the US/NATO leaves.

    Jack E. Hammond
  • This commment is unpublished.
    kelly · 6 years ago
    As I am reading about encounters with insurgents, in various areas of AFGHANISTAN; a priority for making righting a terrible wrong, for the loss of life and limb (by our Marines), should mean to finally resolving the standoff at NOW ZED. You have a contingent of Marines (wholed-up in a compound) living in a stalemate hell, against a few hundred insurgents, separated by a WWI style 'no mans land', in NOW ZED. Marines have been getting injured or killed every day, because we do not seem to have the will or resources to bring an end to the standoff and take NOW ZED once and for all, so the local population will return, and make it habitable again. THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN... OUR MARINES HAVE PAID TOO BIG A PRICE because of a lack of will by our NATO FORCES to take that town once and for all. Micheal, can you look into this story.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    kelly · 6 years ago
    correction: NOW ZAD

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