A new report from the Afghanistan Analysts Network on ISAF capture/kill operations, written by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, shows a significant fall-off in such operations from June 2011, possibly due to the departure of General David Petraeus, whose command saw an increased emphasis on such actions.
The authors' data comes from ISAF press releases, of which there were 3,771 between 1 December 2009 and 20 September 2011. These releases report a total of 3,157 incidents, during which 3,873 individuals were reported killed and 7,146 were detained.
The authors point to inconsistencies in ISAF's terminology, with the terms 'facilitators' and 'leaders' often used interchangeably. About five per cent of those killed and 13 per cent of those detained during these operations are described by ISAF as leaders or facilitators.
The reason for the decline in capture/kill operations since June this year is now the subject of much speculation in the military. Yesterday, Maj. Gen. Michael Krause, deputy chief of staff for ISAF, said that for the first time, Taliban attacks in Afghanistan are declining - they were lower in the past two months than during the same time period last year. Krause also revealed that ISAF had intercepted a communication from the Taliban's "inner shura" admitting that their summer campaign to take back the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand had "utterly failed."