DoD Afghanistan Report Card: True, but…

Edward Kenney Afghanistan Study Group

Amidst the coverage of Osama bin Laden’s death, little attention has been paid to the latest Department of Defense Progress Report.  From the Pentagon’s perspective, this may not be a bad thing, as their claims of progress are not borne out by the facts.

The Department of Defense (DoD) depicts an insurgency in its death throes:

“The increased pace and scope of operations, and the expansion of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) program and Village Stability Operations have, together, placed unprecedented pressure on the insurgency.  Together these efforts have driven insurgents out of key population centers in the south, cleared safe havens that the enemy possessed for years, and disrupted its networks and plans.”

This analysis is shallow. Its conclusions elicit a response of “sounds great, but…” from even those with the most basic understanding of Afghanistan.

According to the DoD we should:

Celebrate that “Kabul has continued to enjoy a relatively high level of security.”  True, but Kabul was never the epicenter of the insurgency, and violence has always been low there.

Be happy that Kandahar City has made “noticeable security gains.” True, but Kandahar Province as a whole has seen violence spiral upwards. This is cherry picked data at its finest.

Not worry about the increase in violence because it is “to be expected” with the increase in troops.  True, but the surge is scheduled to be ramped down in two months time.  When does the Pentagon envision security gains to actually materialize?

Assume the surge is working because the Taliban is incredibly unpopular.  True, but the Taliban was really unpopular before the 2009 surge.  A 2006 poll showed that less than 20% of Afghans supported the insurgents.

Tout the Afghan National Army’s 36,000 man increase in the Afghan National Security forces over the last six months.  True, but the ANA is almost entirely dependent on U.S. funding, and cannot be sustained by the Afghan government.  In fact in order to rectify this dependency problem, Karzai is considering a military draft.
Luckily for the DoD, bin Laden’s death has completely overshadowed the release of this report.

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