Monday, January 3, 2011

Counterinsurgency: You're doing it wrong

General David Petraeus has his work cut out for him: Civilian casualties are at record levels in Afghanistan, with more than 2,000 having died in 2010. According to the Afghan Interior Ministry, 2,043 civilians, 1.292 policeman, 821 Afghan soldiers, and 5,225 insurgents were killed in 2010, plus many thousand more wounded. The U.N.’s number is even higher, estimating that 2,412 civilians died in 2010, up 20 percent from 2009. The 711 foreign troops killed in 2010 were also a record. Nearly two-thirds were American.

Needless to say, widespread civilian deaths are a pretty clear sign you're losing a counterinsurgency. Either you're doing the killing, and thus creating a backlash, or you're failing to prevent the killing -- in which case there's precious little reason for the population to support you.

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