Some Statistics on Afghanistan (March 2021)

I have not blogged much recently about Afghanistan, although we seem to be reaching a decision point as to what to do with the peace deal negotiated with the Taliban by the previous president that called for the removal of all U.S. troops from there by 1 May.

The country has been in open warfare much of the time since 1979. The latest quarterly report on Afghanistan from the United Nations Secretary General is now available. These are always worth looking at as they appear to have less “spin” then many other reports:

The report was posted 18 March. It is dated 12 March.

  1. “The United States reduced it forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 as of the mid-January 2021.” That said, there are also these reports that say we actually have 3,500 there:
    1. U.S. Has 1,000 More Troops in Afghanistan Than it Disclosed
    2. Our troop strength there was around 13,000 a year ago.
    3. There are also around 7,000 NATO and other allied troops in Afghanistan.
  2. “The security situation worsened in 2020, during with the United Nations recorded 25,180 security-related incidents, a 10 percent increase from the 22,832 incidents recorded in 2019.” 
    1. See chart below.
    2. “…the number of armed clashes increased…from 13,155 in 2019 to 15,581 in 2020.”
    3. “…the number of detonations caused by improved explosive devices [IEDs] rose…from 1,949 in 2019 to 2,572 in 2020.”
    4. “…assassinations…from 782 in 2019 to 993 in 2020″. 
    5. “The United Nations recorded 7,138 security-related incidents between 13 November and 11 February, a 46.7 per cent increase compared wit the same period in 2020 and contrasting with traditionally lower numbers during the winter season.
      1. “…armed classes accounted for 63.6 per cent of all incidents.
      2. “Anti-government elements initiated 85.7 per cent of all security-related incidents, including 92.1 per cent of armed clashes.”
  3. “…the number of airstrikes declined…in 2020…from 1,663 in 2019 to 938 in 2020. 
  4. “UNAMA documented 8,820 civilian casualties (3,035 killed, including 390 women and 760 children; and 5,785 injured, including 756 women and 1,859 children) in 2020.” 
    1. This represents a 15 percent decrease compared with 2019, mainly because of fewer civilian casualties from suicide [bombings], from complex attacks carried out by anti-government elements and from air strikes by international military forces.”
    2. “However, UNAMA documented increases in civilian casualties from targeted killings by anti-government elements, Taliban pressure-plate improvised explosive devices, and Afghan Air Force air strikes.”
    3. “In the last quarter of 2020, UNAMA documented a 45 perc ent increase in civilian casualties compared with the same period in 2019.”
    4. “In 2020, the majority of civilian casualties were caused by anti-government elements (62 percent), mainly by the Taliban (45 per cent), ISIL-K (8 per cent) and undetermined anti-government elements (9 percent).”
    5. “A quarter of all civilian casualties were attributed to pro-government forces, mostly caused by Afghan national security forces (22 per cent), followed by international military forces, pro-government armed groups, and undetermined or multiple pro-government forces.”
    6. “Ground engagements were the leading incident type causing the most civilian casualties (36 percent), followed by suicide and non-suicide improvised explosive devices (34 per cent), targeted killings (14 per cent) and air strikes (8 per cent).


              Security           Incidences      Civilian

Year      Incidences       Per Month       Deaths

2008        8,893                  741

2009      11,524                  960

2010      19,403               1,617

2011      22,903               1,909

2012      18,441?             1,537?                             *

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      22,478               1,873               3,804

2019      22,832               1,903               3,403

2020      25,180               2,098               3,035


Now, on 29 February 2020 in Doha the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement to reduce the number of U.S. forces from 13,000 to 8,600 troops in 135 days with a proportional reduction in the number of coalition forces. It is to be followed by the drawdown of all international forces within another nine and half months. The U.S. is now down to 2,500-3,500 troops. This is subject to the Taliban fulfilling their commitments under the agreement. There is still no agreement between the current government of Afghanistan and the Taliban.

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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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