Afghan Defense Minister: Up to 35,000 Active Insurgents

Larger than NATO's Previous Estimate on Insurgency's Strength

A new report from the Afghanistan Defense Ministry suggests that the insurgency has as many as 35,000 active fighters at the moment, larger than the previous estimate of 25,000 provided last month by NATO.

“Some of them are permanent fights. Some of them are people on hire,” reported Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi, who conceded that there was no way to verify the exact numbers.

But the reports reaffirm the underlying message of the NATO estimate, despite massive violence, massive escalations and a record death toll, the insurgency is largely the same size today as they were in late 2009.

This could be a serious problem for officials, particularly when they try to claim “progress” in the nearly decade long war, and suggests that the Taliban and other insurgent factions are able to recruit new fighters at replacement rates to keep up with the deaths in combat.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of