WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S.-led military command in Afghanistan said Tuesday it will no longer publish figures on Taliban attacks, a week after acknowledging that its report of a 7 percent decline in attacks last year was actually no decline at all.
A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, Jamie Graybeal, said Tuesday that its reporting on the number of attacks will grow increasingly inaccurate as Afghan forces move further into the battlefield lead.
"Because (Afghan forces) are now conducting an increasing number of successful unilateral operations, often beyond the view of ISAF, we have determined that our databases will become increasingly inaccurate in reflecting the entirety of enemy initiated attacks," Graybeal said in a written statement.
"Additionally, we have come to realize that a simple tally of (attacks) is not the most complete measure of the campaign's progress," Graybeal said. "At a time when more than 80 percent of the (attacks) are happening in areas where less than 20 percent of Afghans live, this single facet of the campaign is not particularly accurate in describing the complete effect of the insurgency's violence on the people of Afghanistan."
The Taliban have been pushed out of many population centers and have failed to regain territory they held before the surge of U.S. troops in 2010. But they are expected to test Afghan forces as U.S. and allied troops withdraw over the coming two years. All foreign combat forces are to be gone by Dec. 31, 2014.
Coalition officials, including Obama administration officials, had previously cited the reported 2012 drop in Taliban attacks as among a number of signs that the insurgency was in decline and that the Afghans could take on more of the fighting burden.
Last Tuesday, on his final day as defense secretary, Leon Panetta indicated, after The Associated Press revealed that ISAF had incorrectly reported Taliban attack figures for 2012, that he was disappointed about the error.
The error came to light after ISAF removed from its website a set of statistics that included its tally of "enemy initiated attacks," which it had said declined by 7 percent over 2011 levels. When the AP inquired about the missing figures, ISAF said they had been removed because they contained errors. It blamed the mistake on a failure to include Afghan-provided attack figures.
Graybeal said Tuesdsay that the corrected 2012 figures will not be published.