"What Can't Be Measured
Here's a conundrum to be considered and filed away under the rubric "impossible to measure" as you leave the world of Afghan War metrics: The U.S. continues to struggle to train Afghan police and soldiers who will actually turn out and fight with discipline (see above). In the meantime, as a recent Washington Post piece by Karen DeYoung indicated, the Taliban regularly turn out fighters who are reportedly using ever more sophisticated and tenacious fire-and-maneuver techniques against the overwhelming firepower of U.S. and NATO forces. ("To many of the Americans, it appeared as if the insurgents had attended something akin to the U.S. Army's Ranger school, which teaches soldiers how to fight in small groups in austere environments.")
Both groups are, of course, Afghans. It might be worth considering why "their" Afghans are the fierce fighters of history books and legend and ours, despite billions of dollars and massive training efforts, are not. This puzzling situation had its parallel in Vietnam decades ago when American military advisors regularly claimed they would give up a division of U.S.-trained South Vietnamese forces for a single battalion of "VC."
Here's something to carry away with you: Life is invariably hard when you set up your massive embassies, your regional command centers, your election advisors, your private security guards, your military trainers and advisors, your diplomats and civilian enablers and then try to come up with a formula for motivating the locals to do your bidding." Tom Engelhardt