Its hard to believe there is a war on. We are in the middle of a cantankerous presidential debate, but the war in Afghanistan never comes up. According to a San Antonio Express News columnist, we have had the highest number of casualties since last September. According to statistics, the number of attacks on American and Coalition forces is up 11% over this time, last year.
In a traditional war, we measure the success or strength of the enemy by ground gained or lost. In a counter-insurgency or terrorism war, we tend to measure the strength of the enemy by the quantity and quality of attacks. So, in Iraq, we tracked how many attacks the Anti-Iraq forces were able to muster. An increase in number of attacks suggests strength. If the war were receding, then the attacks should be decreasing.
The President and others claim the war is winding down. On the contrary, says the columnist, the Taliban seems to be gaining strength. See San Antonio Express News report. Leon Panetta, Secretary of defense testified before Congress, yesterday. He said the upsurge in attacks reflects the increasing Coalition attacks on the Taliban. Interesting. The metric tracks unprovoked attacks by the insurgents. Yet, somehow, according to Mr. Panetta, the metric now tracks unprovoked attacks by the Taliban that we somehow provoked. That sounds more like marketing than analysis.
Mitt Romney never mentions the war, apparently in tacit agreement with the President. Last presidential election, the two wars were a large part of the debate.
Unfortunately, today, the war seems an after-thought. The website, www.icasualties.org, tracks the Afghanistan War. I find it troubling that we have had 224 U.S. deaths in 2012. Yet, those deaths rarely seem to be reported. Speaking from experience, it is disheartening to find yourself in a war zone and wonder if the folks back home remember your service. I hope that we as a nation have not forgotten.