NATO officials are loudly bragging about a “five year low” in death tolls in occupied Afghanistan, a technically true statement that ignores the broader context, that Afghan security force deaths are reaching an all-time high.
Indeed, even the US death toll picture isn’t nearly as rosy as advertised, with June marking the deadliest month yet of the year, as 2013’s summer fighting season has just begun, suggesting the toll is going to keep rising.
It isn’t surprising, of course, that the record US death tolls seen in 2010 and 2011 aren’t being revisited, as there was a significant military surge in 2008 and 2009, which escalated the violence and the US military’s involvement.
Now, with fewer troops, the US is reluctant to do the frontline fighting in Afghanistan, but the overall level of violence hasn’t dropped, its just transferred to Afghan police and military getting routed by the Taliban fighters riled up by the now-ended surge. The US and NATO forces remain a target, to be sure, but they’re less visible as they spend more time on base and less time wandering around Afghanistan’s windblown roads looking for IEDs.
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