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High-profile attacks in Afghanistan skyrocket

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Joshua Farrell patrols during Operation Grizzly in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 18, 2013. Grizzly was a counter-insurgency operation to deter enemy activity, establish a presence and gather human intelligence.

WASHINGTON — As the departure date for U.S. forces in Afghanistan draws near, the number of high-profile attacks by insurgents has skyrocketed, according to a Pentagon report released Wednesday.

Although the total number of enemy-initiated attacks carried out over the past six months declined slightly compared to the same reporting period last year, the number of high-profile attacks shot up 43 percent, the Defense Department said. There were 10 such attacks in Kabul alone during the Oct. 1, 2013 - March 13, 2014 reporting period, according to the report.

Car bombings, attacks on major government facilities, and other acts of violence designed to garner widespread attention, fall into this category of assaults.

And the Pentagon expects these kinds of attacks to continue.

“High-profile attacks remain a key operational tool to try to influence the population and discredit the Afghan government’s ability to provide security,” the report said. “The insurgent will seek to capitalize on these media-garnering events based on their [propaganda] value,” according to DOD.

But DOD downplayed the strategic significance of such attacks.

“Although the resulting media coverage highlighted local and international perceptions of insecurity, such attacks have not generated operational or strategic momentum for the insurgency,” the report said.

Despite the increase in high-profile assaults, other measures of insurgent strength showed a trend in the opposition direction. The total number of enemy-initiated attacks decreased 2 percent compared to the same reporting period 12 months prior. The number of improvised-explosive device “events” dropped 24 percent, the number of IED/mine explosions fell 11 percent, the number of complex and coordinated attacks declined 8 percent, and the number of indirect fire attacks went down 15 percent, according to the Pentagon. The number of direct-fire attacks rose 5 percent, however.

The report also noted that American and coalition casualties dropped “significantly” last year, and they’re now 75 percent lower than they were in 2010, according to DOD.

harper.jon@stripes.com
Twitter: @JHarperStripes

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