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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
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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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
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.
In February, suicide attackers exploded bombs at a hotel in downtown Kabul,killing two.
In April, insurgents attacked Aghan Army and International Security Assistance Force bases in the city, though they killed no one other than themselves.
 In June, gunmen launched a sustained, complex attack on the heavily guarded HotelIntercontinental in Kabul, killing eighteen people.
Over the summer, they launched astring o deadly attacks, killing dozens.
In August, insurgents launched yet anothercomplex, sustained attack on the British Council in a wealthy, secured neighborhood o Kabul, killing eight.
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.
 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.
In December, a wave o aliban bombing and shooting attacks targeted attransitioning Aghan orces killed 13.
In January 2012, another wave o aliban attacks targeted Aghangovernment ofcials and killed 20.
In April, insurgents launched a sustained attack on embassies, military bases, and the Aghan parliament.
And in May o this year, insurgents attacked Kabul during PresidentObama’s visit, killing 7
– they also killed ve education ofcials in Paktika province near the border withPakistan.
Given the persistent underreporting o violence in Aghanistan, there is almost certainly even more violence than this short list captures.
 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.
 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”
— 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,
publishing data only on deadly attacks,
tangible measurements o progress like counting the number o community shuras it hosts,
and counting how many soldiers nish basic training.
 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.
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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