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Measuring Success - Are We Winning - 10 Years in Afghanistan -May 2012

Measuring Success - Are We Winning - 10 Years in Afghanistan -May 2012

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A report measuring are we winning the war in afghanistan
A report measuring are we winning the war in afghanistan

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: The American Security Project on May 10, 2012
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05/16/2012

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www.AmericanSecurityProject.org1100 New York Avenue, NW Suite 710W Washington, DC
Masig Sss:A W Wiig?
Over 10 Years in Afghanistan
B Jsha Fs
Updated May 16 2012
Idi
or the last two years, the war inAghanistan has taken a very dierentturn. While it used to be denedby grinding summers o battles betweeninsurgents and Coalition troops and long winters o relative quiet, the Aghaninsurgents have spent the last two years ona sophisticated campaign o assassinations,attacks against high-prole targets inKabul (which many considered secured andunassailable), and a sophisticated inuencecampaign.Starting in January o 2011, they launched a brazen suicide assault on an upscalesupermarket in a secured area o Kabul, targeting the country director o a private security rm.
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In February, suicide attackers exploded bombs at a hotel in downtown Kabul,killing two.
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In April, insurgents attacked Aghan Army and International Security Assistance Force bases in the city, though they killed no one other than themselves.
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 In June, gunmen launched a sustained, complex attack on the heavily guarded HotelIntercontinental in Kabul, killing eighteen people.
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Over the summer, they launched astring o deadly attacks, killing dozens.
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In August, insurgents launched yet anothercomplex, sustained attack on the British Council in a wealthy, secured neighborhood o Kabul, killing eight.
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In September, a small team o insurgents managed to re machineguns and launch RPGs at the U.S. embassy or over 20 hours beore being neutralized by Coalition orces.
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 AMerIcAn SecurIty proJect
In October, an insurgent detonated a car bomb next to an armored bus in Kabul, killing at least ve troopsand eight U.S. civilians.
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In December, a wave o aliban bombing and shooting attacks targeted attransitioning Aghan orces killed 13.
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In January 2012, another wave o aliban attacks targeted Aghangovernment ofcials and killed 20.
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In April, insurgents launched a sustained attack on embassies, military bases, and the Aghan parliament.
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And in May o this year, insurgents attacked Kabul during PresidentObama’s visit, killing 7
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– they also killed ve education ofcials in Paktika province near the border withPakistan.
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Given the persistent underreporting o violence in Aghanistan, there is almost certainly even more violence than this short list captures.
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 Tis marked shit would seem to indicate the war is being lost. But because the U.S. ails to monitor crucialaspects o the war, there is no reliable way to be certain.
10 years ater U.S. orces invaded Aghanistan, we still lack the means to tell whether the war is being  won or not.
None o those attacks, taken in isolation, killed very many people — the deadliest was the IntercontinentalHotel attack, which included seven dead insurgents — and they weren’t meant to. Even September’s attack on the U.S. embassy wasn’t very complex, and the insurgents did not demonstrate any particular tacticalgenius.
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 Te insurgents, however, do not need to win large tactical victories in order to win the war: they are notghting a symmetric war. Rather, they seem intent on disrupting the Aghan government’s ability togovern - so that rule o the Islamic Emirate o Aghanistan becomes preerable to Aghans.
In 2008, an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul was widely considered unthinkable. Te downtownneighborhoods were being surrounded by what many called a “Ring o Steel”
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— dozens o guards,roadblocks, checkpoints, and barricades — so that business could take place in a Green Zone where violence was kept at a minimum. oday, the insurgency can penetrate the Ring o Steel again and again tolaunch attacks. Te recent attacks served to shake condence in ISAF and the Aghan government.
In contrast, ISAF seems to be waging a diferent war altogether.ISAF reporting on its activities seems more concerned with establishing a running tally o operations—relying on insurgent body counts to underscore progress in the war,
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publishing data only on deadly attacks,
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tangible measurements o progress like counting the number o community shuras it hosts,
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and counting how many soldiers nish basic training.
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 While ISAF data captures many physical measurements o the war, it is less successul in measuring thesocial and political eects o the war, such as which side Aghans think will ultimately win.
 
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In essence, the aliban and its allies must shake condence in the Aghan government and diminish the Western appetite or staying in order to win. Te International Security and Assistance Force and itsAghan allies are waging a ar dierent war – based on sweeping operations, inrastructure creation, andsecurity orce training. With both parties to the conict ghting dierent wars with dierent types o outcomes, is it evenpossible to gauge i the ISAF and Aghan government coalition is winning? Te answer is not simple.  When gauging ISAF’s success in Aghanistan one should rst dene success — something we show isnot easy to do. Once success is dened, one can create the metrics by which one would measure progresstoward or away rom that dened success. We settled on the most generous interpretation o President Obama’s publicly stated aims or the war:deny al Qaeda sae haven, prevent the aliban rom overthrowing the government, and build up theAghan security orces and the government so they can take responsibility or their countrys uture.
How one goes about reaching this goal is also no simple matter: two o the three objectives PresidentObama stated are dened by absence rather than by achievement, and the third objective is not really denable in concrete terms.
 While it may be difcult to say when, exactly, we can know that our goals have been met, we can developa series o metrics that should indicate whether we are progressing toward those goals or not. Te ollowing paper describes those metrics, and tries to determine whether we are measuring the mostrelevant data to gauge success in Aghanistan.Lastly, we ask the question: what are we actually measuring? And does the data we have allow us toaccurately gauge the success o our eorts? 

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