No announcement yet.

October 2010 - Afghanistan

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • October 2010 - Afghanistan

    The links do not work on this source. I will try posting it later. I've left out the regional clashes data. I've added what i can.
    NightWatch - 29 November 2010 - Special Report: October in Afghanistan
    Findings: The number of clashes in October in the NightWatch data base, which contains exclusively open source reports on fighting, remained elevated, at 701. The Taliban "victory" offensive continues. NightWatch estimates this number represents a fourth to a half of the actual total, but it includes the most noteworthy fighting actions during the month.

    The highlight of the month was the relative calm in Kabul and Parwan Provinces in central Afghanistan. That contrasted sharply with a surge of attacks in Kandahar, the setting for the latest Coalition offensive.

    The Taliban exhibited several tactical innovations, compared to earlier years. Most noticeable was an increase in direct fire attacks against Coalition bases. The Taliban also exercised greater care in selecting targets. Most of the time they avoided civilians, except for assassinations of "spies" and suicide attacks in Kandahar, which were calculated to achieve maximum casualties and terror effects. Finally, the Taliban shifted into different districts, compared to a year ago. Most shifts were not an expansion of the fighting from consolidated districts, but avoidance of increased Coalition operations.

    The number of provinces infected by the Taliban remained steady at 30 of 34, the same number as in October 2009. Fighting in October 2010 was less concentrated in the 12 southern and eastern provinces, reflecting the Taliban breakout in 2009 into the Pashtun enclaves of northern Afghanistan. The number of provinces that experienced daily clashes dropped to 10 compared to 14 a year ago and 12 in 2008

    The number of districts reporting engagements was 193, out of 400. From spring to early winter 2009, the Taliban sustained operations in 200 districts or half the districts of Afghanistan.

    The Taliban remain mostly Pashtun. Their operational areas are coextensive with Pashtun-dominated districts, whether in the south or the north. In that sense, they have peaked.

    NATO forces remain essential for the survival of the government in Kabul, but they are not numerous nor present enough to make permanent the improvements their operations make in the local security situation. Afghan forces, especially the Afghan National Army cannot operate without NATO support and do not bear the brunt of fighting.

    Outlook: Taliban and other anti-government fighters will begin to go to winter quarters in Pakistan or in Afghanistan. The fighting will decline during the winter, but in the core provinces of the Pashtun south, weather should not be a factor.

    Based on Taliban public statements, attacks will remain focused on disruption of the overland truck lifeline for Afghan and NATO forces, ambushes of Coalition patrols and assassinations. IEDs will continue as a favorite weapon, depending on outside supplies.

    Taliban cannot defeat NATO forces, but NATO forces cannot defeat Taliban, especially without combat air support. Taliban will continue to display more boldness in attacks as long as NATO restricts its use of air power, which is a game changer. The promise of more air support and the introduction of main battle tanks in support of the Marines in Helmand should destroy the Taliban's momentum locally, if consistently applied.

    The government in Kabul will remain dependent on NATO forces for its survival for an indefinite period.

    Technical note: The special report series on Afghanistan is based exclusively on open source reporting. The data is a sample, but one that has proven reasonably reliable as a guide to Readers about the trends in and status of the security situation during the past four years. The numbers are only valid in the context of this report.

    The gaps in monthly coverage are a reflection of sourcing problems.
    Monthly Fighting Data

    The graph below shows the trend of fighting during the past three years. Most analysts assess the Taliban began their bid to return to power in Kabul in 2006. The graph indicates that they doubled their capacity for clashes every year until 2009 and then grew more slowly or remained steady.

    Last year, the NATO command reported anti-government forces engaged in 700 security incidents on election day, 20 August 2009. That effort was a single day high that the Taliban have never repeated. Across the country, the daily average in October 2010 was about 25 clashes.
    Operational Highlights

    The highlights were suicide attacks in Kandahar City, the attempt to overrun Khogyani District in Ghazni Province, and the first joint US-Afghan-Russian counter-narcotics raid in Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province.

    On 5 October the Taliban detonated multiple explosives and car bombs in Kandahar City, killing 7 and wounding 25 civilians. During the month they assassinated or kidnapped city and district officials in Kandahar, apparently as a riposte to the NATO press reports about the Kandahar offensive. At least in Kandahar City (not the same as Kandahar Province) the Taliban sustained an offensive.

    In Ghazni Province, the Taliban succeeded in capturing and burning the district administration buildings in Khogyani District for a day on 30 October, and tried to make a propaganda coup of it. Coalition forces recaptured it the next day.

    The joint counter-drug raid on 30 October was a highlight because it was the first operation by Russian soldiers in Afghanistan since the Soviet occupation ended in 1989. It sparked demonstrations in Jalalabad for a time and some official complaints that dissipated quickly.

    Casualty Ratios

    Ratios for overall casualties and for fatalities provide insight into the lethality of the clashes and the value of modern western military technology.

    In October 2010, Taliban once again husbanded manpower in sustaining an elevated level of fighting. Taliban lost 657 men killed, wounded or captured. Included in the total were 174 detainees, most of whom usually got released after questioning. Coalition forces sustained 354 killed, wounded or captured.

    Death ratios. In October, the number of Taliban reported killed was 398. Total fatalities in Allied forces -- meaning NATO, ISAF, the Afghan National Army, National Police and local militias -- were 176. In October 2009 they were 142. In October 2008 they lost 97 men killed. Local militias were not formed in those years

    (Note: Accurate casualty data for non-NATO fighters is notoriously difficult to derive from the public media. The Taliban and Afghan government exaggerate their achievements, and understate their own losses. Trends in the levels of clashes and casualties should and do correspond in the data.)

    The Kill Ratio in October 2010 was about 2 Taliban dead for every Coalition soldier or militiaman killed, or 2:1. This means that Allied soldiers and militias killed 2 anti-government fighters for every NATO and government death in combat. IEDs remain the largest source of Coalition deaths and NATO air attacks are the largest source of Taliban deaths.

    For the purpose of comparison, the October 2009 ratio was 2:1 and the October 2008 ratio was 11:1 or eleven Taliban killed for every Coalition soldier who died. The obvious conclusion is that the 2010 surge in US troops has not resulted in more Taliban deaths than before, just more fighting.

    The Taliban will win a war of attrition in that manpower is not a limitation. Their most significant vulnerability is the supply line from Pakistan. No supplies are manufactured in Afghanistan, for either side, but the Taliban never seem to lack for ammunition or explosives for very long.

    The chart below enables a year-to-year comparison of the killed and wounded.

    The noteworthy points are the low level of civilian casualties compared to 2008 and the low number of Afghan security force casualties. Losses are one measure of who is doing the most fighting. The numbers show the western forces still do most of the fighting, compared to the past two years. That reverts to the pattern of 2007 and earlier.

    * The source for Coalition numbers is the September 2010 Defense Department bi-annual report to Congress.

    ** Afghanistan is much less violent than Iraq was at the height of the Sunni Arab insurgency. Iraq experienced about 300 clashes per day. The open source data shows Afghanistan averages fewer than 25 clashes a day.
    Closing Observations

    Based on the assessment of fighting at the district-level, NightWatch continues to assess that the Taliban movement is co-extensive with Pashtun settlement patterns. Taliban have failed to expand their appeal beyond their core ethnic group. The salient feature of a year-on-year comparison is how little the ethnic-geography of the combat zones has changed.

    At current force levels backed by air power, the security situation should be containable, but not permanently improvable. The force ratios are not sufficient to achieve permanent results by the Coalition forces, especially when factoring in the low level of capabilities of Afghan government forces. There are not enough dependable forces to enforce the writ of the Kabul government, whether it is corrupt or as clean as a hound's tooth.
    Power Respects Power
    --- Dr. APJ Kalam