This summer, the communities around Joint Base Lewis-McChord are becoming too familiar with the dangers of southern Afghanistan. Lewis-McChord has lost 17 soldiers in Afghanistan this year, and there are several months left in the summer fighting season.
That’s why it’s worth reading this Christian Science Monitor report on improving security in Kandahar city, the center of the volatile Kandahar province where most Lewis-McChord soldiers are stationed this year.
Afghan officials told the newspaper that enemy attacks there are down 75 percent in the city this year, a sign that Afghan security forces are improving and defeating insurgents with assistance from U.S. forces elsewhere in Kandahar province.
Kandahar residents are concerned trends could change for the worse once NATO forces leave over the next couple years.
“Compared to last year there is no doubt that the situation is better, but still there are problems. It’s not long-term security. As soon as foreign troops leave, I’m sure there will be insecurity again,” Ahmad Shah Spar, an independent political analyst in Kandahar, told the Christian Science Monitor.
The International Security Force Afghanistan this month reported that enemy attacks increased by 11 percent in the region that includes Kandahar over the first five months of this year. Lewis-McChord commanders have said the tough fighting reflects the Taliban’s desire to hold on to its homeground in Kandahar Province.
The two reports together seem to paint a mixed picture. The city is safer, but Lewis-McChord soldiers generally are out in the countryside trying to build up Afghan security forces and the Afghan government ahead of further reductions in the ranks of American soldiers stationed there. Their objective, according to Lewis-McChord commanders, is to create “irreversible momentum” to suppress the insurgency as Afghan government forces take the lead in securing their country.