Attrition: Taliban Tribulations


December 5, 2008: Total Taliban related deaths in Afghanistan this year will probably be close to 5,800. About half of them Taliban and a third of them civilians (ten percent by foreign troops, over 70 percent from Taliban violence). The Taliban were not able to get an offensive going this year. It was not for want of trying. Taliban (and their al Qaeda allies) attacks were up by over a third compared to last year. Most of this was because of suicide bombers and roadside bomb attacks. These mostly killed civilians, even though they were primarily aimed at foreign troops and Afghan security forces. So far this year, 268 foreign troops were killed, with about 290 expected for the entire year.

Last year, 7,700 people died in Taliban violence, 58 percent of them Taliban, 26 percent of them civilians (mostly from Taliban violence) and most of the rest Afghan security forces. There were 232 foreign troops killed.

In 2006, there were 4,400 dead, with about the same ratios as 2007, with 191 foreign troops killed. In 2005, when the Taliban violence began to sharply increase, there were 1,700 dead, half of them Taliban, and a higher proportion among the Afghan police and army. Foreign troops suffered 130 dead.

One of the problems of counting combat casualties in Afghanistan is the large number of non-Taliban gunmen out there. Many bandits, and guys working for warlords and drug gangs, look much like Taliban fighters. Well, not so much. The drug gangs are often better dressed and armed. But Predators have a hard time picking up the higher priced running shoes and rifles being carried by the druggie minions.

The Taliban declare that their primary objective is to drive foreign troops from the country. In this, they have failed in a spectacular fashion, failing to kill many of them, and being slaughtered in great numbers when they confront the foreign troops directly.





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