Afghanistan Raids by U.S. Commandos Almost Triple Since 2009, NATO Says

U.S. Special Forces near Marjah, February 24, 2010

From Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg:  The U.S. military in Afghanistan has nearly tripled since 2009 the frequency of commando raids launched against Taliban or insurgent groups, according to NATO figures.

This year, from Jan. 1 through this week, the U.S. — with Afghanistan and NATO assistance — has launched 1,879 missions, with 916 “targets” killed or captured, according to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

That compares with 1,780 missions for all of last year, with 825 targets killed or captured, and 675 missions in 2009, when 306 adversaries were killed or captured, according to a NATO spokesman, U.S. Army Major Jason Waggoner.

“Even if the primary target is not killed or captured on these missions, 35% of those times, the next closest associate or another individual directly linked to the target is killed or captured,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

Roughly 7,000 of the 61,000 personnel under the U.S. Special Operations Command are in Afghanistan today. . . .

The increased missions are also the product of better coordination between the intelligence and commando communities highlighted by the May 1 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

U.S. intelligence agencies and elite special-operations units in Afghanistan work in small groups that consolidate and analyze real-time information from informants, satellites and eavesdropping on top Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives.

Post-9/11 “tactical cooperation grew and was expanded and refined” under U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal, “whose hunter-killer” teams in Iraq were replicated when he took over in 2009 command of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, New York Times reporters Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker write in a new book, “Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda.”

The pace of the “intelligence-driven operations skyrocketed” with more than 12 raids a night supported by the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, they write.  (photo: Getty)

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