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Understanding the Afghanistan War: 1/3 the Troops, Larger than Iraq far worse terrain, near same population.

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To figure out what to do in Afghanistan requires first that we understand it, having a base for comparison. So, here are some numbers.

Korean war peak troop strength: 326,000
- Korean ongoing troop strength since 1953: 40,000 until recently 28,000
- Korean war KIA/MIA. USA - 35,000 out of 778,000 on southern side.
- Kill ratio of South coalition against North alliance: 1.5 North Alliance for each South Coalition soldier.
- Kill ratio of US solders against North alliance: 29 North Alliance for each US soldier.

Vietnam war peak troop strength: 537,000
- Vietnam war KIA/MIA. USA - 61,000 out of 316,000
- Kill ratio of US coalition + S. Vietnamese forces against Viet Cong: 3.7 Viet Cong per coalition soldier (Americans tend to forget the Australian, Thai, Laotians and Canadians as well as South Vietnamese who fought there.)
- Kill ratio of US soldiers against Viet Cong: 20 Viet Cong per US soldier.

Gulf War I peak troop strength (USA only): 543,000
-Gulf War I KIA/MIA. USA - 240
- Kill ratio of Coaltion forces against Saddam's Iraq: 145 Iraqi soldiers for each coalition soldier.

Gulf War II (Iraq) peak troop strength (USA only): 150,000
- Gulf War II ongoing troop strength: 130,000
- Gulf War II KIA/MIA. USA - 4344 out of 17,000
- Kill ratio of Coalition+Iraq forces against insurgency plus invasion: 2 for each coalition soldier
- Kill ratio of USA forces against Saddam and insurgency: 8 for each US soldier.

Afghanistan war peak troop strength: 53,000
- Afghanistan war KIA/MIA. USA - 1.412 out of 6,625
- Kill ratio of Coalition forces against Taliban: 3.4 Taliban. per coalition.
- Kill ratio of USA forces against Taliban: 16.28 Taliban per US soldier.

Basic War stats Korea - Afghanistan

Afghanistan's troop levels were only up to 19,500 by 2005 in a nation with much worse terrain than Iraq. Afghanistan's 647,000 square km is larger than Iraq's 438,317 square km. Afghanistan's 30 million is only slightly less than Iraq's 31 million population today. Even now, troop levels in Afghanistan just barely passed the historical peacetime deployment to S. Korea, and yet North and South Korea's combined size at 223,170 square km is only 1/3 that of Afghanistan.

By any measure, the Afghan war has been fought very well by the US troops there. And that nation is the only one that we had reason to attack after 9-11. Clearly, the Afghan war was grossly mismanaged by the former president, but even so, by basic measures of war, the troops there have done very well, about twice as well as those in Iraq.

I think we need to balance the history of gross neglect in Afghanistan against the necessity to hold the Islamist militants in check in that region. This is the place they have exported jihad to our cities from. Allowing them to win won't be like Vietnam, which is a nation with a Buddhist culture. Allowing them to win will result in more war on our cities.


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John Toradze is the pen name of a scientist who ran an office in Tbilisi, Georgia for 5 years and traveled widely in Russia the former USSR nations and nearby. I have authored chapters for books published by the West Point terrorism center on (more...)

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