As you may have seen today in this story, Marine officials in Afghanistan released to me statistics outlining enemy-initiated attacks. The numbers compared 2011 and 2012 by district, shedding light on an interesting period of transition in southwestern Afghanistan.
Among the details that stuck out for me:
Lt. Col. David Bradney, head of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, told me in an interview in October that his Marines had “punched them in throat in Afghanistan.” The numbers back that claim. Between 2011 and 2012, attacks in Sangin fell from 2,778 to 1,216, a 56 percent decrease.
The most noteworthy increase in violence came in Kajaki, where attacks increased from 493 in 2011 to 1,196 in 2012. That’s not necessarily a huge shock, considering Marine forces launched a major operation in Kajaki, Eastern Storm, in late 2011. A number of hornet’s nests that had not been dealt with regularly prior to then got significant attention in the first half of 2012, before the drawdown kicked in.
Musa Qala, Marjah
Marines had been in Musa Qala and Marjah longer this year than in Sangin, and the decrease in attacks between 2011 and 2012 reflects that. Once home to daily fighting, the districts both saw significant reductions in attacks. In Marjah, the number dropped from 1,592 to 782, a 51 percent drop. In Musa Qala, attacks dropped from 1,648 to 1,156, a 30 percent decrease.
We’ve covered it before and we’ll say it again: Nahr-e Saraj is still a messy neighborhood. In 2012, there were 3,927 attacks recorded there, about a third of all the attacks in RC-Southwest and three times more than any other district in Helmand.
The following districts had more than 1,000 attacks in Helmand in 2012: Nahr-e Saraj (3,927), Nad Ali (1,518), Sangin (1,216), Kajaki (1,196), Musa Qala (1,156), Now Zad (1,025). There’s hardly any surprises there, other than a spike in violence recorded in Nad Ali. The district, overseen by Afghan and British forces, had 984 attacks in 2011.