Afghanistan: Things Getting Better, If By "Better" You Mean More IEDs Going Off and Hurting People


USA Today reports from America's favorite quagmire:

The number of improvised explosive devices that were cleared or detonated rose to 16,554 from 15,225, an increase of 9%, according to data obtained by USA TODAY. In 2009, total IED "events," as they are known, came to 9,304.

Insurgent reliance on IEDs as their No. 1 weapon meant a rise in concussions and severe wounds to U.S.servicemembers who have been operating on foot to root out Taliban fighters in remote areas. Civilians were increasingly becoming the main victims.

The number of Afghans killed or wounded by IEDs jumped 10% in 2011, compared with 2010, according to figures released by the military command in Kabul. The bombs account for 60% of all civilian casualties, which totaled more than 4,000 killed or wounded in 2011. Insurgents caused more than 85% of those casualties.

As with so many failed government programs, the internal logic of the problem seems to demand expanding the war. Just as "you can't do just one thing," sometimes it's tricky to fight a war on just one country.

The leaky border with Pakistan remains a problem, according to the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO, the Pentagon's lead agency for combating makeshift bombs.

Pakistan is the source for 80% of the fertilizer-based homemade bombs in Afghanistan, JIEDDO says. Those bombs cause 90% of U.S. casualties. Jones said IEDs will continue to plague the coalition and civilians. "This is likely due to the ability of insurgents to import IED materials, including triggering devices and ammonium nitrate, from Pakistan," he said.

Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., has pushed Pakistani officials to stem the flow of bombmaking materials…

Meanwhile, Reuters reports on the Afghanistanization of the hated NATO tactic of the "night raid":

The raids enrage entire communities and fuel anti-American sentiment and are politically calamitous for Karzai and his government. Joint Afghan-U.S. raids began in 2009 to try to dampen public opposition.

But Karzai last year told a meeting of leaders from across the country that unless night raids by NATO forces ended, he would not conclude a strategic agreement covering the presence of U.S. soldiers in the country beyond 2014.

In a compromise, Afghan defense officials decided in late December to form special forces -- benignly named the Afghan Partnering Unit (APU) -- to take over raids on private homes as soon as possible, with members selected from commando units.

My past writings on the Afghanistan war.