Thursday 6 May 2010

Relentless increase in "enemy-initiated attacks"

Some interesting figures in the latest GAO report on the security situation in Afghanistan, which shows that the level of "enemy-initiated attacks" has risen every year since 2005. The increase in the last year has been exceptionally high: between September 2009 and March 2010, the number of attacks increased by about 83 per cent compared to the same period last year. Attacks against civilians rose by 72 per cent.
Overall, more than 21,000 enemy-initiated attacks were recorded in 2009 - an increase of 75 per cent over 2008. The US military expects attacks to continue to rise in number throughout the coming summer.
The level of violence in Afghanistan is having a serious effect on reconstruction and development. The GAO report quotes a UN document that reports "limits on accessibility of development programme activities" in 94 districts considered very high risk and 81 districts considered high risk.
For example, by destroying generators at the Kandahar Industrial Park in August 2009, the Taliban halted economic development for the project. Almost a year later the generators have still not been replaced. And USAID reports that a $40m literacy programme has been severely disrupted because the villages taking part are no longer safe enough to visit.
With 84,000 US military personnel (due to rise to 98,000 very shortly) in Afghanistan, plus 40,000 Coalition troops and 113,000 soldiers from the Afghan National Army, the forces lined up against the Taliban are now greater than ever before.
US civilian numbers have also increased - up by 200 since December - with many of these extra staff earmarked to work in around 50 postings outside Kabul. Can't see that happening for a while.

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