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A Small Point on that 'Military Report Card'

Posted By Grim • [September 29, 2012]

I'd just like to draw your attention to one slide from that military report card, the one on Enemy Initiated Attacks.

Screen-shot-2012-09-27-at-9.38.30-AM

What I want to draw your attention to is the "ISAF Observations" portion of the slide, but first let me explain how I read the chart.  The important thing about this slide is that it shows that the Surge was a failure.  Why does it show that?  Because the Surge was intended to collapse the opposition, so that Afghan forces could stand up and take control.  Instead of those recurrent peaks, representing the annual fighting seasons, you should see a peak and then a decline.  Compare the same chart from the Iraq war:

Iraq_surge

Here you see a sharp drop from the peak until the tail is more than 90% lower than the peak, beginning just as the Surge really takes effect in the summer and fall of 2007.  With a few blips, the general trend is to tail off.  

What the Afghan slide shows instead is that the surge did nothing to break the enemy's capacity to initiate violence.  In the beginning, we see an insurgency built around a fighting season, but showing robust capacity to return year after year and strongly contest government control through violence.  At the end of the chart, we see the same thing.  We can't even say that enemy capacity was decreased by the surge, because although the peaks are slightly lower at the end of the surge than in its first year, they are about the same level as pre-surge.  In other words, the surge increased the level of enemy initiated violence, which is only now returning to the pre-surge levels.

Remember that the majority of Americans who have died in Afghanistan died during these 'surge' years, under this, President Obama's plan.  What have they given their lives to achieve?

Now, what I said I wanted to talk about was the "ISAF Observations" portion of the slide.  Read it over.  There's no acknowledgement of anything we just discussed.  Some staff officers at ISAF are trying to help their boss put a happy face on this:  hey, a 5% drop if we look at it just this way! 9% here!  None of them dare to tell their boss to brief that the surge has left EIA levels almost exactly where they were before the surge, and accomplished only raising those levels during the surge.

Staff officers in Afghanistan:  Odds are your boss already knows what you don't want to tell him, and just like you he doesn't want to have to be the one to brief his commander.  Nevertheless, you must encourage in each other the same courage we ask of the infantryman who has to advance into enemy fire.  It's time to speak the truth.  Nobody wants to hear it, but here it is.


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