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6 Mar, 2013 02:57

ISAF to stop counting Taliban attacks amid data scandal

ISAF to stop counting Taliban attacks amid data scandal

US-led forces in Afghanistan are set to stop counting the number of Taliban attacks they encounter, after an investigation found their calculations severely flawed, providing incorrect data for 2012.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) made the decision to not keep track of further attacks after announcing that it had been mistaken when reporting a 7 per cent drop in Taliban attacks in 2012 compared with the previous year. The about turn came on the back of an Associated Press investigation into the figured reported, with ISAF officials later confirming that there was actually no decline in attacks.

The error was said to be clerical, but nevertheless cast a shadow on repeated statements by ISAF officials that the Taliban was on its last legs.

Over the last year it has become clearer and clearer that not only was the measurement meaningless, but it became embarrassing because there weren’t any [ISAF and Afghan] gains,” war analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told AP, noting that there were more Taliban attacks in 2012 than in 2009 - that is, before the Obama administration sent an additional 30,000 troops into combat in Afghanistan.

The ISAF has acknowledged that its system is seriously flawed, stating Tuesday that coalition officials have lost faith in reporting those which are solely deemed "enemy-initiated" attacks.

We have come to realize that a simple tally of [attacks] is not the most complete measure of the campaign’s progress,” said ISAF spokesman Jamie Graybeal in the Tuesday statement. “At a time when more than 80 per cent of the [attacks] are happening in areas where less than 20 per cent of Afghans live, this single facet of the campaign is not particularly accurate in describing the complete effect of the insurgency’s violence on the people of Afghanistan.”

After the 'clerical error' came to light, the ISAF initially stated that it would correct its numbers and post them to its website. However, Graybeal said, the corrected 2012 statistics will not be published.

Coalition forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan in 2014, with the Taliban expected to pose a serious test to Afghan security forces.