Afghanistan: Special Comment. Longtime Readers know that NightWatch has had a continuing project to monitor the security situation in Afghanistan since mid-2006, using a consistent sample of unclassified reporting. In 2006, when the Taliban resurgence was just beginning, NightWatch began publishing monthly summaries of the security situation.
In the past three years, the number of incidents per month has increased so that compiling and analyzing monthly reports threatened to become a full time job.
NightWatch has continued to track data in detail for all 400 districts of Afghanistan every other month and spot checked fighting reports in between. Preliminary analysis of the data for May 2011 was completed today. The table below shows the data from three tracking measures since last November.
What do these data signify?
First the “media expert” thesis that the Taliban have a fighting season that ends in winter is a fantasy. During each of the past three winters Taliban and other anti-government fighters increased their level of activity, reducing their operations only briefing for weather, as in January 2009. Winter weather imposes no lasting impediment to anti-government operations in the core provinces of the insurgency.
The Taliban did begin an offensive in May 2011, as announced. The number of security incidents in May reached an all-time high despite a brief dip in activity in late May apparently because of rumors that Mullah Omar was missing or deceased.
The number of districts experiencing security incidents was at an all-time high, despite the increase in US forces. The mix of districts has changed, indicating the anti-government fighters moved, rather than confront overwhelming US force. This explains the multiple reports of successfully cleared districts that have returned to normality while the overall number of security incidents increased.
About 200 of the 400 Afghan districts have Pashtun majorities or significant Pashtun minority populations. Any monthly total number of districts experiencing security incidents that exceeds 200 means the Taliban have acquired support or tolerance from non-Pashtun populations.
The May 2011 number of districts experiencing security incidents represents two-thirds of all districts, and is the highest number since the Taliban resurgence began in 2006. Much of this increase in reach is in districts north of Kabul.
The number of incidents is partly a function of increased US operations during the surge, but the Taliban are almost always present to shoot back. There also has been a noticeable spike in the use of improvised explosive devices, the most effective Taliban weapons.
The anti-government fighters waste lots of ammunition and explosives, but never seem to lack for supplies for long. Afghanistan makes no ammunition and no explosives. Almost all come from Pakistan or from leakage from US and Afghan supplies. The increase in security incidents always is matched by an increase in logistics for NATO and anti-government fighters.
The analysis continues, but the reports since November show no significant Afghan army involvement in combat operations. The May reports contained a single operation that clearly was Afghan army initiated. Afghan soldiers accompany NATO forces on operations, but seldom take casualties except from careless driving.
The Afghan police continue to sustain more casualties than any other armed entity. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates Afghanistan has more than 30,700 villages. NightWatch security incident data indicates up to two-thirds harbor or tolerate anti-government fighters in them.
The data show the Afghan government cannot survive without NATO support, especially logistics and tactical air support. More on casualties, later.
Phi Beta Iota: The above merely addresses the fighting, which the Pentagon is lying about to the President, Congress, and the public. Corruption, the fact that the US single-handedly resurrected Afghanistan from zero to #1 in opium production, and Pakistan from zero to #1 in Number Four Heroin, the fact that the US Government, “in our name,” has expended trillion in war on false pretenses and with no constructive results, while neglecting its responsibilities at home–these all suggest that it is not the Obama Administration per se that needs to be fired, but rather “the system” or “the Establishment” as a whole that needs to be replaced. Of course it would help if the President and/or Congress has actionable reliable intelligence they could use with integrity. That is not the case. For $80 billion a year we get corporate welfare.