Pentagon: American Public Doesn't Need to Know How Much Territory We've Lost in Afghanistan

The Pentagon will no longer inform the American public who has greater control of Afghan districts—the Afghan government or insurgents—the latest sign that the military is trying to obfuscate the failure of its 18-year war in Afghanistan

The revelation comes from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) quarterly report (pdf).

Per the report:

John Sopko, the special inspector general, told reporters last week that he thought the decision by the Pentagon doesn’t make sense:

The new data on the matter would likely not have been anything for the Pentagon to brag about.

“As of October 22, 2018, #Afghan government control or influence over its districts at lowest level reported since #SIGAR began receiving district control data in November 201,” SIGAR said in a tweet Tuesday.


SIGAR linked to its previous quarterly report, which showed that in October 2018, the Afghan government exercised control of 64 percent of the population compared to 69 percent in August of 2016. Insurgents controlled 11 percent in October 2018, an increase from the nine percent it controlled in August 2016.

In terms of district control or influence, the Afghan government claimed 54 percent in October 2018, but that figure dropped to 72 percent in November 2015. Insurgents claimed control of 12 percent of districts in October 2018—an increase from the seven percent it had in November 2015.

This issue is not the only measure of the Afghan war being blocked from public view. From the SIGAR report:

“What we are finding is now almost every metric for success or failure is now classified or non-existent,” said Sopko.

SIGAR’s report to Congress comes on the heels of a the United Nations report showing that U.S.-backed forces killed more Afghan civilians than the Taliban and other armed anti-government groups did in the first three months of 2019.  And in 2018, the U.N. recently reported, Afghan civilian deaths hit a new high since records began a decade ago.

The Cost of War project estimates that the war in Afghanistan has directly caused at least 147,000 deaths, over 38,000 of whom were civilians.

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