Afghan War Surge Not Working, Officials Admit

Assessments Dispute Public Claims of 'Momentum Shift'

The WikiLeaks release of Afghan War documents in July made it very clear that there were two official stories for the conflict, the story told to the public and Congress, and the story that showed up in private assessments. The two were starkly different.

Which made those public claims of “routs” and “clear progress” something less than credible. But after being found out, would officials continue to keep a separate set of books on the war just for the purposes of selling it to the public?

Apparently so, as officials are privately conceding that the year end “assessments” of the Afghan War surge are showing that it simply isn’t working, and that the war is going poorly as ever.

The insurgency seems to be maintaining its resilience,” noted one top Pentagon official, adding of Gen. Petraeus’ claims of a momentum shift “I don’t see it.” President Obama’s December 2009 surge led to record violence in 2010, but was always followed by promises of noticable progress by year’s end.

And that’s continued to be the story, at least in the public assessments. The “turning point” occupation of the city of Marjah was a case in point. After a month of selling the upcoming occupation as a big victory, troops found no turning point, and indeed no city. Instead they found a tiny farming community, and the fighting that was supposed to be over in a matter of days has continued for over eight months.

So when the year end review breaks in the public and people start asking “is the surge working?” again, the public answer may be something about routs and momentum, but the real answer will be, clearly, “no.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of