Iraqi Trends and Afghan Resources
October 1, 2009
The Burke Chair at CSIS is issuing two new reports on the Iraq and Afghan Wars.
The Afghan report Resourcing the Afghan War: An Overview can be downloaded here.
The first reported is entitled “Recent Trends in the Iraq War: Maps and Graphs,” which is available on the CSIS web site at:
This report shows the level of progress taking place in Iraqi security and stability in terms of reductions in the areas and levels of violence and current Iraqi perceptions. It provides a detailed quantification of a point raised by General Raymond Odierno in his September 30, 2009 testimony to Congress.
As reported in Defenselink, General Odierno testified that attacks, U.S. and Iraqi deaths, and ethno-sectarian murders had declined sharply since August 2007, when more than 4,000 attacks occurred in a single month. Fewer than 600 attacks occurred in September 2009, U.S. military deaths dropped by 93 percent relative to August 2007, Iraqi military deaths by 79 percent, and ethno-sectarian murders by nearly 90 percent. “While statistics do not paint the whole picture, they help provide some context in understanding the progress made to date...We have seen no indications of a return to the sectarian violence that plagued Iraq in 2006 and 2007.”
Odierno also warned, however, that Arab-Kurdish tensions represented a major new source of potential violence and instability, and it was critical to continue building up the US-Iraqi strategic partnership and that, “There still remains underlying, unresolved sources of potential conflict...Iraq is a nascent democracy emerging from 30 years of authoritarian rule based on ethno-sectarian privilege. Its future as a stable, multi-ethnic, representative state rests upon its ability to deal with the myriad of these challenges, and some of these issues will take time to resolve...Even as Iraq’s political system continues to mature, there is not yet consensus…that is accepted across ethnic, sectarian and regional lines.”
The second report is entitled "Resourcing the Afghan War: An Overview", and is available on the CSIS web site at:
It focuses on a critical aspect of the Afghan conflict that has largely been ignored in what has so far been a vague and conceptual debate over the future US and NATO/ISAF role in the Afghan conflict. It highlights the fact that debates over strategy cannot, as some suggest, ever be meaningfully separated from the level of resources necessary to implement them, and whether practical plans can be carried out with the resources available.
This report provides charts and graphs that show the level of troops and resources that have gone into the Afghan conflict since 2001, and compares them with the level of resources that went to the Iraq War. It shows just how slow the US was to react to the growth of the threat – a factors that gave Al Qa’ida and the Taliban the initiative from 2002 to the present, and played a major role in its resurgence.
It shows just how late the US was to react in deploying more than minimal troop levels, and how slow it was to develop Afghan forces. It shows how erratic overall U.S. aid funding was and how much of this aid went to development activities that did not impact on the Afghan people, win popular support for the Afghan government, or support US efforts in the field. It highlights the reality that a debate over strategy that is decoupled from a detailed net assessment, plans, and resources is dangerously abstract and vacuous – if not actively irresponsible.