Obama War: How Afghan Conflict has Ramped up in Last Two Years

By: Marcus Baram   

NEW YORK — It was a busy day in Afghanistan: a U.S. airstrike killed at least three people yesterday, including a leader of the Haqqani terrorist network and two other militants in Khost province, according to the Pentagon.

The men were attacked after troops observed several insurgents planting roadside bombs — the unnamed terrorist leader was reportedly responsible for building and trafficking homemade explosives. In addition, four armed men were killed by security forces who were targeting a Taliban bombmaker in Helmand province, in whose Sangin district several Taliban bomb traffickers were detained and security forces found weapons stockpiles of assault rifles, hand grenades and bomb-making materials.

Today marks the second anniversary of President Barack Obama’s first surge of troops into Afghanistan just weeks after taking office, when he authorized the deployment of 17,000 additional forces to the country — at that point, close to a 50-percent U.S. troop increase. Since then, he has approved several more escalations, and the current total of 97,000 U.S. troops in-country is more than double the number stationed there in 2008.

And dramatic activity on Wednesday crystallized some of the developments in the war since that first surge — the dramatic rise in U.S. air strikes, the increased use of improvised explosive devices by Taliban and insurgents and the alarming uptick in U.S. troop deaths and Afghan civilian deaths — amid increasing doubts about the war.

Though some socio-economic measures have improved in the country, from a slightly higher per-capita income to increased school attendance, the small percentage of Afghanis who prefer Taliban rule has more than doubled in the last two years.

The Huffington Post completed a status update of the war in Afghanistan, including conditions in the impoverished country, comparing January 2009 to January 2011. As indicated, some of the statistics reflect available data from the previous year.

U.S. Troops 36,000 97,000 + 169
U.S. Troop Deaths 155 (2008) 499 (2010) + 222
Percent of Troop Deaths Due To IEDs 58 81 + 23
Non-U.S. Troops 31,880 41,983 + 32
Non-U.S. Troop Deaths 140 (2008) 212 (2010) + 51
Afghan Security Forces 170,000 270,000 + 59
Afghan Civilian Deaths 1,798 (2008) 2,412 (2010) + 34
Drone Strikes in Pakistan 33 (2008) 118 (2010) + 258
Opium Production (Hectares) 157,000 (2008) 123,000 (2010) – 22
Per Capita Income $466 (2008) $500 (2010) + 7
Mobile Phone Use (Percent) 22 40 + 18
Children In School (Percent) 50 58 + 8
Afghanis Who View US Presence As Good (Percent) 32 32 0
Afghanis Who Prefer Taliban Rule (Percent) 4 9 + 5

*Marcus Baram is a news editor at the Huffington Post.  This is a cross post from Huffington Post.

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  • shahbaz  On February 19, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Nice Article but there are some contradications as regards the statistics&the conls.
    The Us troops have increased by 169%;Deaths have also increased by 222%,which is alarming;
    The deaths by IEDs hav increased by23%.where as drone attacks inside Pakistan have also increased by 258% that is highest.Where as there is no change in the desire of Afghans for US troops to continue to stay;this meands they are either indifferent or the report is not correct Because The desire to get back to Taliban rule has increased by 5%.
    The conlosion therefore is stop drone attacks in Pakistan.Trust Pakistan take them on board,try to win their hearts&minds through love and by threats/bullying arrogant attitude of Hillary clinton in Raymand case,where her arrogance forced Mr. qureshi pakistan foreign minister to be removed from office.The increase in deaths of US troops by IEDs means the taliban have overcome the technical advantage of the US troops,who have the latest equipment and technology to reduce deaths by IEDs.

  • Faisal Malik  On February 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    The world was a better place BEFORE the imperial armies began their march against the Muslim world.

    How casually word like “terrorist” thrown in front of the Haqqani group.

    the same people who were once the blue eyed boys of the West.

    now declared terrorists.


    trying to rid their beloved homeland of the insurgent armies of the West.

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