Afghanistan: Broken Promises

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May 8, 2007: The government has about 100,000 soldier and police in service or training. Over the next few years, that number will be increased to at least 132,000. While the Taliban and drug gangs have far fewer armed men on the payroll (under 20,000), they have the cash to pay their gunmen more, and bribe army and police commanders. This corruption is a major problem in the security forces, and is expected to get worse.

May 7, 2007: The Taliban and al Qaeda continue to use suicide bomb attacks as much as possible. There have been about 43 such attacks so far this year, which have killed over a hundred people (most of them civilians). Overall, the level of Taliban violence is less than last year. The Taliban boasted of a larger "offensive" this year, but so far have not been able to deliver.

May 6, 2007: Since October, 2001, 200 U.S. troops have been killed in combat. That's about one soldier in every 600 who has served a year in Afghanistan. That's an exceptionally low casualty rate. In addition, 119 soldiers died from non-combat causes. When Russia was fighting in Afghanistan during the 1980s, they had about six times as many troops in the country, and suffered about 35 times as many combat dead, and even more non-combat dead (mainly from disease).

May 2, 2007: The Taliban have had more success using publicists, than guys with guns. Issuing stories of American atrocities against Afghans, are readily accepted by many news outlets in the region and around the world. Later reports of how those stories proved to be false, do not get picked up as eagerly. This the Taliban can score points among people outside the combat zone. But on the ground, the truth is much more harmful to the Taliban. The use of civilians as human shields is a widely known Taliban tactics, and entire villages will flee if they know Taliban fighters are headed their way. If there are enough armed men in the village, the Taliban will be confronted with force, and urged to go elsewhere.

 

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