Small Wars Journal

Afghanistan War Metrics Manipulated to Highlight Battlefield Success According to Bombshell WaPo Report

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 10:56am

Afghanistan War Metrics Manipulated to Highlight Battlefield Success According to Bombshell WaPo Report by Shawn Snow – Military Times

America’s longest war continues to drag on as U.S. forces are amid one of its heaviest bombing campaigns since the start of the conflict 18 years ago as Washington seeks to force the Taliban into a settled peace.

But in the backdrop, war metrics that have been used to push positive public sentiment and stay the course in a war U.S. officials have acknowledged as unwinnable were manipulated to tout successes and emphasize particular strategies were moving in the right direction, according to a an explosive story from the Washington Post.

In documents obtained through a government records request by the Washington Post, a senior National Security Council official said the Obama administration and Pentagon pushed metrics that portrayed the 2009 decision to surge 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in an inaccurately positive light.

“It was impossible to create good metrics. We tried using troop numbers trained, violence levels, control of territory and none of it painted an accurate picture,” the NSC official said in a 2016 government interview, according to the Washington Post’s government documents.

“The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war," the NSC official said, the Washington Post reported…

Read on.


In 2008, with both the ANA & ANP, we advisors were using something called the TRAT & PTRAT, which I believe stood for "Training Readiness Assessment Tracker" & "Police Training Readiness Assessment Tracker".  These were the mechanisms used to determine how effective we were in advising/ assisting/ training our Afghan counter-parts.  Though I don't recall specifics, I do remember several of us (in both Kabul and later in Kandahar) asking if these trackers were able to accurately measure Afghan effectiveness based on the questions it was asking.  Furthermore, was anyone in CSTC-A reading our comments?

I don't know of anyone that I worked with/ for having lied on these assessments.  But I think the questions asked on them were wishy-washy enough that one could read them however one wished to.....and that probably didn't help anyone, except those in dire need of a BSM.