13 December 2008
Special Report: October in Afghanistan
Summary: October was another surge month. Based on the NightWatch sample of news service
reports, fighting increased to 314 clashes that produced casualties or property damage and were
reported in the press. In September 267 clashes occurred. October tied with June as the third
worst month in the history of the insurgency.
Clashes were reported in 119 districts, which also is the third highest number since 2001. The
cumulative total of clashes reported in press is projected to set a new record by a significant
margin over all past years. Once again, the nature of attacks showed greater organization and
tactical skill and characteristics of insurrection instead of insurgency.
In October, Taliban and other anti-government forces sustained more casualties than in any single
month. The 1038 Taliban killed, in the NightWatch sample, is the highest number of Taliban
deaths reported in news media in a single month. Taliban and anti-government militia leaders
seem to judge those losses acceptable relative to the successes in maintaining presence.
Afghan National Army forces were more engaged in fighting than in any prior month. They
sustained 59 killed and wounded, their highest monthly losses. NATO casualties were 36. October
was the first month that Afghan army losses exceeded NATO losses.
Outlook: Most Taliban and other anti government fighters probably began to go to winter
quarters, in Pakistan or in Afghanistan. The fighting will drop during the winter, but in core
provinces of the Pashtun south, it should remain high relative to last winter, unless the weather
turns as harsh as in the winter of 2007.
Based on Taliban public statements, the focus will be on the overland truck lifeline for Afghan and
Monthly Fighting Data
The graph below shows the two year trend of clashes in the NightWatch data sample by month.
The graph illustrates the significant jump in violence this year. The ti