Is this what “shielding Afghans from violence” looks like?

Posted: October 1, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. Learn how the war in Afghanistan undermines U.S. security: watch Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six), & visit

During his confirmation hearing, General McChrystal said:

American success in Afghanistan should be measured by “the number of Afghans shielded from violence,” not the number of enemy fighters killed, he said.

McChrystal is now running around demanding more troops for Afghanistan so he can increase “the number of Afghans shielded from violence.”

Yeah, about that:

U.S. troop levels by month compared with the number of civilians killed in each two-month period so far in 2009.

U.S. troop levels by month compared with the number of civilians killed in each two-month period so far in 2009.

Check, please.

  1. bob w says:

    I don’t buy the correlation that you’re implying; Many Afghan civilians were targeted by the insurgents during the recent elections, so it was higly likely that casualties were going to increase during that period.

  2. bob w says:

    highly, not higly!

    • dcrowe says:

      Hi bob w:

      Certainly the elections were a reason the insurgents stepped up their tempo. But, consider that the date of the election was August 20. The beginning of the upswing starts in May, with casualties making a large jump then and increasing quickly after that in the subsequent months. The trend was already pacing troop levels before the election related violence kicked in.

      Stay tuned. I’m working on another post w/ charts, which I think make the beginnings of the case that it was the launch of Operation Khanjar, not the election, that triggered the events that caused the majority of upswing. Now, those are all related events: troop increases were initiated to enable that operation which, ostensibly, aimed to bring security to the population for the election, but as you’ll see in the upcoming piece, it’s launch on July 2 saw civilian deaths due to IEDs jump very sharply. In fact, from July – Aug, the civilian deaths due to IEDs and suicides matched the entire Jan-Jun total for such deaths.

  3. dcrowe says:

    And, further, the point of the above is not necessarily to blame U.S. troops for the rise, but to pose the question: why would we ramp up troop levels when such a move has *not* been correlated with an advance toward our measure of “success”? That’s the real question supporters of more troops have to answer.

    • sporkmaster says:

      Well because for me I count myself as part of the number being asked. The Army in Afghanistan is asking for help, as a solider that is enough in itself. But if you ask me will this all us to be successful there? I like to think so, but because that place is so uncertain and the fact that I have never been there I would have to say “I do not know”.

      I just know they need help and one on the worse places you can be is on the side lines while fellow service members go into harms way.

      Perfect example: found out about a mission where they where going to take a few of our guys to run dozers to clear a road to a village they needed to clear. I thought I was going to go with them because of the danger, but they left me at the base the majority of the platoon was there. So middle of the day while the operation was on day 2 there was a blackout notice. (That means all communications are shut down because someone got hurt and/or killed). So I am waiting (and worrying) with no info at all wondering what is going on and why I was not out there. (Turned out to be another unit somewhere else had a non-combat accident). I would not wish that feeling on anyone.

  4. […] Is this what “shielding Afghans from violence” looks like? posted on October 5th, 2009 at Return Good for Evil […]

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