No more data on Taliban attacks, says ISAF

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The military terminal at Kabul International Airport [File Photo]

Kabul: The U.S.-led military command in Afghanistan says it will no longer publish figures on Taliban attacks.

The announcement about the decision comes a week after the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan admitted that its report of a 7 percent decline in Taliban attacks during 2012 was wrong and that there actually had not been any decline in Taliban attacks.

General Gunter Katz, a spokesman for the NATO-led ISAF, told RFE/RL that the mistake was made because ISAF is now in the transition process of handing over the leadership of all security responsibilities and combat operations to Afghan government forces.

"Many of those operations that the Afghans are conducting are actually unilateral operations," Katz said. "Therefore, it is more and more difficult for ISAF to get the right database and our current database becomes more and more inaccurate."

Coalition officials -- including members of U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration -- had previously cited the reported drop in Taliban attacks during 2012 as a sign that Afghanistan’s insurgency was in decline and that the Afghans could take on more of the fighting burden.

Last week, on his final day as U.S. Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta indicated that he was disappointed about the error.

ISAF spokesman Jamie Graybeal said ISAF expects that its reports on the number of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan will grow increasingly inaccurate as Afghan forces continue to expand their leadership role in the battlefield.

He said that is because Afghan forces are carrying out “an increasing number of successful unilateral operations” that often are beyond the view of ISAF.

Graybeal also said that the corrected 2012 figures on Taliban attacks will not be published.

He said ISAF has come to realize that a simply tally of the number of attacks is “not the most complete measure of the campaign’s progress.”

He said about 80 percent of the Taliban’s attacks are now happening in areas where less than 20 percent of the Afghan population lives.

Taliban militants have been pushed out of many of Afghanistan’s population centers and have failed to regain territory they held before the surge of U.S. troops in 2010.

But the Taliban is expected to test the abilities of Afghan government forces as U.S. and allied combat troops are withdrawn during the next two years.

All foreign combat forces in the U.S.-led military coalition are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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