October 13, 2011
The success of one of Nato’s principal tactics against the Taliban – targeted night raids aimed at killing or capturing leaders of the insurgency – may have been exaggerated to make the military campaign in Afghanistan look more effective, according to a report published on Wednesday.
The study shows that for every “leader” killed in the raids, eight other people also died, although the raids were designed to be a precise weapon aimed at decapitating the Taliban on the battlefield by removing their commanders.
The report notes that in briefings to the US media, aggregate claims made for the number of Taliban leaders killed or detained over a given period were sometimes much greater than the numbers recorded in the daily press releases.
The report, by Kandahar-based researchers Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, for the Afghanistan Analysts Network, looked at the daily press releases published by the Nato-led International Stability Assistance Force (Isaf) to create a profile of the “kill-or-capture raids” from December 2009 to the end of September this year.