The Afghan-Pakistan War
May 13, 2008
The US government has cut back on its reporting over time, and its web pages now do little more that report on current events. Unlike the Iraq War, there is no Department of Defense quarterly report on the progress of the war, and on efforts to create effective Afghan security, governance, and development. There is no equivalent to the State Department weekly status report. Testimony to Congress, while useful, does not provide detailed statements or back up slide with maps, graphs, and other data on the course of the war.
The same is true of virtually all of the other governments providing NATO/ISAF forces, and of NATO/ISAF itself. There are some useful data on the reasons for deploying forces, casualties, and the units actually deployed, but no real analysis of the course of the fighting, threat developments, and relative success.
Most NGO and governmental reporting on aid is equally uninformative. There is largely anecdotal reporting on projects and successes, but little reporting on actual spending, the overall aid effort, and measures of requirements or effectiveness.
The Afghan government provides little or no useful data.
Developing An Unclassified Survey
The end result is not a "forgotten" war as much as one where governments have failed to provide meaningful transparency, and where an effort to provide a meaningful overview using unclassified information becomes a cut and paste exercise in finding materials that provide enough detail to show where the war is going and the challenges involved.
The present draft is a rough cut at developing a comprehensive briefing on the current status of the war. It pulls together a wide range of material from US commands, NATO/ISAF, UNAMA, the US and other NATO/ISAF governments, and private organizations like Senlis. It is at best, however, a start.
There are many critical limits in the material available. For example, Senlis provides most of the available maps that give some idea of the progress in the fighting and the relative balance of Afghan Central government, Pakistani central government, NATO/ISAF, Taliban, and Al Qa'ida presence and influence. Yet this organization sometimes tends to exaggerate the Taliban and Al Qa'ida challenge as part of its effort to increase aid and NATO/ISAF troop strength.
The end result is necessarily long and complex. The full brief runs over 200 pages. Even so, it has to rely heavily on maps, graphs, and tables to provide an overview of the unclassified reporting that is available at the cost of depth in any given area. (Please note that some material was also blurred or poorly defined in the original version, and this could not be corrected.)
This briefing will be steadily expanded and revised over time. It is also my hope that there are useful summary maps, charts, and assessments that we have missed. Accordingly, I would be very grateful for any additional material you can suggest, and for corrections to the data shown. These can be e-mailed to me at email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org.