Small Wars Journal

Military Pressure and Body Counts in Afghanistan

Military Pressure and Body Counts in Afghanistan by Jonathan Schroden - War on the Rocks

For years, the U.S. military has been reporting how much territory the Afghan government controls as compared to how much the Taliban controls as a measure of how the war in Afghanistan is going. This metric tied directly to its theory of success, as articulated in 2017 by the then-U.S. commander of Operation Resolute Support, Gen. John Nicholson…

Recently — only one and a half years after Nicholson made this comment — the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction disclosed that “the U.S.-commanded NATO Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan … is no longer assessing district-level insurgent or government control or influence.” The revelation that the U.S. military was no longer providing — or even keeping track of — data on district control led to a flurry of reporting, a lot of questions, and even some accusations that the Pentagon was hiding information that was likely to be embarrassing or not in keeping with a narrative of progress. (It’s worth noting that the Afghan government has been losing ground to the Taliban since November 2015.)

What could possibly account for this dramatic shift? Is it really a case of the U.S. military wanting to hide embarrassing trends from the American people?...

Read on.