On Thursday, the Government Accountability Office released a report (pdf) to Congress summarizing its latest analysis of the training of the Afghan National Army (ANA). The title conveys much of the sense of the report: “AFGHANISTAN SECURITY: Afghan Army Growing, but Additional Trainers Needed; Long-term Costs Not Determined”. The report documents that training of the ANA actually met an interim goal three months ahead of schedule last fall, but then indicated that the overall end goal for ANA size likely will need to be increased. Importantly, the report plants what I predict will be the seed producing a total lack of accountability for David Petraeus when the ANA eventually proves to be not up to the task of taking over full control of Afghan security (while “training” goals are currently being met, ANA units still remain far from functional on their own) by stating that the effort is suffering because of lack of staffing by those who carry out the training of ANA forces.
Both the GAO report and the only media report I have seen on it, from CNN, fail to to cite the importance of the data presented in Figure 1 of the report, where we see that despite the increased numbers of ANA forces being trained and the “surge” of ISAF forces, violence levels in Afghanistan continue in a steady upward trend. Even when factoring in the seasonal variation in violence, it can be seen in Figure 1 that the total number of monthly attacks in winter 2010-2011 is roughly twice the rate of summer 2008 attacks. When comparing identical seasons, summer 2010 attack rates are roughly three times summer 2008 attack rates and seven times summer 2005 attack rates.