Taliban attack trends: Never mind

Statistical data now considered flawed

The Malone Telegram (New York)

By Robert Burns
AP National Security Writer

WASHINGTON — The U.S.-led military command in Afghanistan will no longer count and publish the number of Taliban attacks, a statistical measure that it once touted as a gauge of U.S. and allied success but now dismisses as flawed.

The move comes one week after the coalition, known as the International Security Assistance Force, acknowledged in response to inquiries by The Associated Press that it had incorrectly reported a 7 percent drop in Taliban attacks in 2012 compared to 2011. In fact, there was no decline at all, ISAF officials now say.

The mistake, attributed by ISAF officials to a clerical error, called into question the validity of repeated statements by allied officials that the Taliban was in steep decline.

Anthony Cordesman, a close observer of the war as an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it had been clear for months that ISAF’s figures were flawed.

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