Attrition: Afghan Violence Down From Last Year


April 30, 2007: Casualties in Afghanistan are, so far, lower, by about 30 percent, than they were last year. So far this year, about 320 Afghan civilians and security personnel have been killed, along with at least 680 Taliban and 39 U.S. and NATO troops. The fighting forces involve about 20,000 American and NATO troops, about the same number of Afghan security forces, and about four thousand Taliban. The Taliban are trying to stay out of sight, until they actually attack someone. The government and foreign forces are trying to track down the Taliban, while also protecting several million civilians in southern Afghanistan.

There are actually about 50,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, but not all are involved in combat operations in the south, where the Taliban are concentrated. Same situation with Afghan security forces, which are spread throughout the country. Afghanistan does send many of its best trained units to the south, but most of the fighting falls on soldiers and police recruited locally. These guys know the territory, and are defending their own (clan and tribe, for the most part.)

Another force to be reckoned with are the gunmen working for the drug gangs. Some of these are actually Taliban, as the drug gangs have found a home among some of the pro-Taliban tribes. However, most of the drug gangs want no part of fighting government or foreign troops. The drug gangs are all about making lots of money. For this reason, the government has tried to keep anti-drug operations separate from those waged against the Taliban. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.


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