Measuring Success in Afghanistan

Afghanistan by the Numbers

Tom Engelhardt has just published his Tomgram on Measuring Success in Afghanistan. He writes that “metrics in war almost invariably turn out to occupy treacherous terrain. Think of it as quagmire territory, in part because numbers, however accurate (and they often aren’t), can lie — or rather, can tell the story you would like them to tell.” It is quite long so I am only excerpting the section on the Diplomats and the Civilian Surge:


Cost of new “crash” program
to expand the U.S. “diplomatic presence” in Afghanistan and Pakistan: $1 billion. ($736 million of which is slated for the construction of a massive new embassy/regional headquarters in Islamabad, Pakistan.)


Number of additional
U.S. government personnel reportedly slated to be sent to Pakistan to augment the 750 civilians already there: almost 1,000.


Expected number
of U.S. government civilians to be posted at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan by the end of 2009: 976. (There were 562 at the end of 2008 and there are now reportedly more than 1,000 diplomats, staff, and Afghan nationals already working there.)


Estimated total number of civilians
to be assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as part of a proposed ongoing “civilian surge” by 2011: 1,350 (800 to be posted in Kabul, 550 outside the capital).


Cost of
the State Department’s five-year contract with Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) to provide security for U.S. diplomats in Afghanistan: $210 million.


Cost of
the State Department’s contract with ArmorGroup North America, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Wackenhutt Services Inc., to guard the U.S. Embassy in Kabul: $189 million.


Number of private guards
provided by ArmorGroup North America: 450, based at Camp Sullivan, several miles from the embassy compound where they reportedly engaged in Lord of the Flies-style behavior.

Read the whole thing here.

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