Afghanistan: Almost 5,000 Taliban insurgents laid down their weapons or are moving toward doing so, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Petraeus said on 23 March. About 700 former Taliban have officially completed the steps to reintegrate into society, Petraeus said. He said another 2,000 insurgents are taking steps toward reintegration and others have laid down their weapons entirely.
Comment: The statistic is interesting because only a fraction of the anti-government fighters have reconciled to the government, based on the daily number of clashes and engagements. Most have been in northern districts where logistics support from Pakistan is barely sustainable. Petraeus also did specify the time frame for his data.
NightWatch data in November 2010 and January 2011 show the number of ralliers increased, but the number of clashes increased at a much greater rate. Several developments can explain the data. First, the anti-government forces appear to be replacing losses at a rate much faster than the rate of rallies. That can only happen if the populace supports the recruitment effort and that means the fight in Afghanistan is a Pashtun tribal uprising, not an insurgency. Second, the ralliers do not remain reconciled, but rejoin the fighting after a period of rest. The spring anti-government offensive should provide insight into the rate of recidivism. Third, the numbers are spread over such a long period as to be meaningless in evaluating the success or failure of the Coalition efforts. And there are others.
Without more context, the statement about ralliers looks like cheer leading.
So how many anti-government fighters are there, considering that more 5,000 have rallied over some indeterminate period and thousands have been killed and detained annually, but the level of fighting continues to increase? Conservatively, NightWatch estimates, based on the fighting data, there are more than 35,000 part time fighters. For key events, they can swell their number to more than 50,000.
Phi Beta Iota: “Cheerleading” can be likened to delusional mis-representation. R&R stands for “Rest & Recreation.” The Taliban have perfected the use of US funds and facilities for regenerating their moderately weary or malnourished. General Petraeus was a toddler during the Viet-Nam era, or he would recognize the ironic similarities between himself and General “Don’t Count the Guerrillas” Westmoreland. Di di mau len, General. Those who do not respect history are destined to repeat it.