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NATO will no longer publish figures on Taliban attacks

WASHINGTON — The U.S.-led military command in Afghanistan will no longer count and publish the number of Taliban attacks, a statistical measure that it once touted as a gauge of U.S. and allied success but now dismisses as flawed.

The move comes one week after the coalition, known as the International Security Assistance Force, acknowledged in response to inquiries by the Associated Press that it had incorrectly reported a 7 percent drop in Taliban attacks in 2012 compared with 2011. There was no decline at all, ISAF officials now say.

The mistake, attributed by ISAF officials to a clerical error, called into question the validity of repeated statements by allied officials that the Taliban was in steep decline.

Anthony Cordesman, a close observer of the war as an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it had been clear for months that ISAF's figures were flawed.

"The truth is they should not have published them in the first place," he said. "A great many people realized from the start that it was a meaningless measurement" because it implies that in order to succeed the Taliban has to keep attacking rather than gaining ground by influencing ordinary Afghans. It's that influence which needs to be overcome in order to ensure the viability of the Afghan government.

The United States and its ISAF allies have pledged to end their combat mission by the end of next year, and while they are likely to leave at least several thousand troops to help train Afghan troops, the Afghans are to assume the lead role for security across the entire country this spring, when the Taliban typically step up their attacks.

There are now about 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

An Afghan soldier stands guard at the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2012. The U.S.-led military coalition will no longer publish statistics on Taliban violence.

An Afghan soldier stands guard at the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2012. The U.S.-led military coalition will no longer publish statistics on Taliban violence.

Kabul Bank executives get five years

An Afghan tribunal sentenced two top executives to five years in prison Tuesday for misappropriating hundreds of millions of dollars from the nation's largest bank in a scandal that caused it to fail and threatened the country's fragile economy. Judge Shams-ul-Rahman Shams said the former chairman of Kabul Bank, Sherkhan Farnood, and former chief executive officer Khalilullah Ferozi were guilty of misappropriating $278 million and $530 million, respectively. Farnood and Ferozi were also ordered to pay back these funds. Observers called the sentences remarkably light given the crime, raising questions again about the Afghan government's commitment to rooting out corruption.

NATO will no longer publish figures on Taliban attacks 03/05/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 2:23pm]
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