By Umar Farooq
American officials have continually issued misleading reports on their progress in Afghanistan after 17 years of war, giving a false impression of realities on the ground, according to the New York Times.
The Times said Saturday while the U.S. officials claim the Afghan government controls 56 percent of the country, in reality it only controls 29 percent.
The report also said Afghan security forces outnumber the Taliban by a ratio of 10 to 1 on the record, but this fails to show that one-third of the Afghan forces have left their positions without being removed from the payroll.
According to Department of Defense records, a total of 2,216 U.S. soldiers have died during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. An estimate by the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the U.S. has spent just under $841 billion in Afghanistan since 2001.
However, even after spending all this money and effort into fighting the Taliban, military analysts say the Taliban control the majority of territory.
"The war has become more expensive, in current dollars, than the Marshall Plan, which helped to rebuild Europe after World War II. That investment has created intense pressure for Americans to show the Taliban are losing and the country is improving," read the report.
The U.S. has not only misled the public on the war in Afghanistan, but also on the living conditions of the country.
According to the Times' report, in 2010 the U.S. government pegged the life expectancy of the average Afghan citizen to be 63 years old, while in 2009 the World Health Organization reported it to be 48, citing a high number of high death rate in early childhood.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) also disagreed with the U.S. government's estimate, predicting the life expectancy to be around 51 years old in 2017.
The report also showed that the U.S. denied that the Taliban had briefly taken control over the city of Ghazni in Southeastern Afghanistan last month.
Over the six day siege by the Taliban, in which they took control of most of the city except for a few government facilities, spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan Col. Martin L. O’Donnell continually said the Afghan security forces had control over the city.
"They did regain control from the insurgents, but only after six days, and at the cost of nearly 200 police officers and soldiers killed," the report noted.