Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Winning With Body Counts

It sounds like an impressive number, but boasting about how many insurgents you've killed isn't an ideal way to practice Counterinsurgency (COIN) tactics.
A U.S. Marines commander said Wednesday his troops have killed 400 insurgents in southern Afghanistan since late April.

Col. Peter Petronzio, the commander of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said the figure came from the governor of the southern Helmand province, where his troops have been deployed since late April.

Some 2,200 U.S. Marines moved into the town of Garmser in Helmand province to clean the area of insurgents.

Helmand province is the world's largest opium poppy growing region, the main ingredient in heroin. It is also the area with the highest level of insurgent activity in the country.

After months of fighting around Garmser, Petronzio said the area is not yet secure but is more stable.

"The Taliban proved they wanted to fight for Garmser and we took the fight to them," he told a news conference in Kabul.

Really, do we have to keep hearing about airstrikes, body counts and "last throes?"
...a body count tells you little, because you usually can’t know how many insurgents there were to start with, how many moved into the area, how many transferred from supporter to combatant status, or how many new fighters the conflict has created.

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