July 17, 2007

Afghan stats update

A quick note on the fighting in Afghanistan last year. In October I wrote a post about the geographic distribution of NATO combat deaths. It seemed appropriate to do an update.

Here, for reference, is the distribution of NATO combat deaths by province in Afghanistan, for 2005. At the time, the only real continuing hot spot was Kunar province, where 23 of that year's 73 fatalities occurred (31%):*

Here is the same distribution for all of 2006, when fighting flared up in Kandahar and Helmand provinces as NATO's ISAF force and the Afghan central government began imposing themselves on that area. Fighting continued in Kunar as well: the two southern provinces accounted for 68 of that year's 130 combat fatalities (52%), with the Kunar fighting resulting in another 15 (11%):

Here is the distribution so far this year, with the fighting in Helmand and Kandahar continuing, but relative quiet everywhere else (the loss rate in Kunar having dropped off significantly). So far this year there have been 83 combat fatalities, with 54 of them (65%) in Kandahar and Helmand.

The conclusion one could draw from this is that the Afghan fighting remains centred on two of the country's 34 provinces. A total of 15 provinces, containing 34% of the country's population, have had no NATO fatalities at all in the period evaluated here. (By contrast Kandahar and Helmand, the real war zone, contain between them about 8% of the national population.) Efforts by insurgent groups to broaden the conflict this year seem to be have had limited success, and their northern wing, which includes the unstable Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Taliban fighters based out of the Pakistan FATA area, may even be losing ground in the east of the country this year, in terms of their ability to strike at the NATO forces.

*16 of those 23 were in a single helicopter crash, later attributed to hostile fire.

Posted by BruceR at 08:36 PM