Some Statistics on Afghanistan

Camp Lonestar, near Jalabad, 7 October 2010 (Photo by William A. Lawrence II)

I do have a chapter on Afghanistan in my book America’s Modern Wars. When it came to updating the Afghanistan chapter (as I had to update the book before it was published), I ended up leaning on the Secretary General reports quarterly reports on Afghanistan for my data, as it may be the most trusted source available. Those reports are here:

In Chapter Twenty-One my book I note that in 2013 there were 20,093 security incidences or 1,674 a month. This is a definite increase since 2008 and 2009 (741 and 960 a month respectively) and only a slight improvement (decrease) from 2011 (1,909 incidences a month). See pages 259-261 of my book.

So what are the current statistics?:

              Security           Incidences      Civilian

Year      Incidences       Per Month       Deaths

2013      20,093               1,674               2,959

2014      22,051               1,838               3,699

2015      22,634               1,886               3,545

2016      23,712               1,976               3,498

2017      23,744               1,979               3,438

2018      19,995               1,666               3,384      Estimated


2011 was the worse year of the war as far as incident count until 2016 and 2017. Based upon incident count, the war has been pretty much “flat-lined” for the last nine years (2010: 19,403, 2011: 22,903, 2012: 18,441). Civilian deaths show that same pattern.

At the start of 2013, we still had 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, although we were drawing them down. There were 251 U.S. troops killed in 2012 (310 killed from all causes) and 85 in 2013 (127 killed from all causes). Over the course of 2013, 34,000 troops were to be withdrawn and the U.S. involvement to end sometime in 2015. We did withdrawn the troops, but really have not ended our involvement. According to Wikipeida we have 18,000+ ISAF forces there (mostly American) and 20,000+ contractors. I have not checked these figures. We left behind an Afghan force of over 300,000 troops to conduct the counterinsurgency. That force has not grown significantly in size since then.

As we note in my book “The 2013 figure of 20,093 incidents a year does argue for a significant insurgency force. If we use a conservative figure of 333 incidents per thousand insurgents, then we are looking at more than 60,000 full-time and part-time insurgents.”

Now, we actually never did have a contract to do work on Afghanistan. After we were right on Iraq in 2004 (casualties and duration), we were given contracts to do more data research and analysis of insurgencies, but never given a contract to further refine our predictions for Iraq or do a similar prediction for Afghanistan. So we have never done any in-depth analysis of Afghanistan (you know, the type of work that requires a man-year or more of effort).

Camp Lonestar, near Jalabad, 7 October 2010 (Photo by William A. Lawrence II)



Notes for 2018 estimates:

  1. 15 December 2017-15 February 2018: 3,521 security incidences (6% decrease from previous year).

  2. 15 February-15 May: 5,675 security incidences (7% decrease from previous year).

  3. 15 May – 15 August: 5,800 security incidences (10% decrease from previous year)

  4. First quarter of 2018: 763 civilian deaths.

  5. Mid-year 2018: 1,692 civilian deaths.




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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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