President Obama told reporters on May 12, 2010, that “we’re beginning to reverse the momentum of the insurgency” in Afghanistan. According to his administration’s own report given to Congress last week, that’s not true. The insurgency is growing in size and capabilities. Simply put, the president’s continued troop increases aren’t working. It’s time to change course. Tell your Member of Congress that you want an exit timetable for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The president’s assertion was more fully fleshed out by Undersecretary for Defense Michelle Flournoy before the House Armed Services Committee last week:
“We’ve seen other positive indicators in the last year, as well. Of the 121 key terrain districts identified by ISAF in December 2009, 60 were assessed as sympathetic or neutral to the Afghan Government. By March, 2010, that number had climbed to 73 districts. Of the 121 key terrain districts identified by ISAF in December 2009, 60 were assessed as sympathetic or neutral to the Afghan Government. By March, 2010, that number had climbed to 73 districts.”
That’s a statistic in the sense of a “lies, damn lies, and statistics” statistic from the Defense Department’s “Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan (PDF),” delivered last week to Congress. First, note that they surveyed an additional 28 districts in March compared to December. But here’s the real meat: between December 2009 and March 2010:
- No district at all shifted to being “supportive” of the government. In fact, no district was classified as “population supports the government.” The number of districts where the population “supported the insurgency” did increase from 7 to 8, however.
- The number of districts classified as “sympathetic” to the government increased by 10. What Flournoy didn’t point out, however, was that the number of districts classified as “sympathetic” to the insurgency increased by 14 over the same period.
By my count, that puts the administration in the hole by 1 additional district “supporting” the insurgency and 4 additional districts “sympathetic” to the insurgency. Twenty-nine districts are sympathetic to or support the Afghan government. Forty-eight are sympathetic to or supportive of the insurgency. Forty-four are neutral. Violence is up 87 percent. That’s called failure. Had enough? Join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook.