The State of the Afghan War

The State of the Afghan War by Seth G. Jones – Center for Strategic and International Studies

The recent high-profile bombings in Afghanistan have reignited a debate about the state of the war. In its recently released quarterly report to the U.S. Congress, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR) publicly complained that the Department of Defense (DOD) was not being fully transparent: “SIGAR was informed that DOD has determined that although the most recent numbers are unclassified, they are not releasable to the public.”

The report continued that “this development was troubling” and pleaded for more information like government control of territory and attrition rates for Afghan forces. The U.S. military quickly responded by releasing additional data. “It was not the intent…to withhold or classify information which was available in prior reports,” Navy Captain Thomas Gresback, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, said in a statement. “A human error in labeling occurred.”

While it is important to be transparent about data, lost in this debate are several critical questions. How is the war going? And what metrics are important to gauge the state of the war? Thankfully, there is more than sufficient publicly available information to answer these questions for a war that has witnessed several recent grisly attacks—and which has evolved into a draw between the government and Taliban…

Read on.

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