Didn't we see this movie before? You know, the one where the generals lie about the success of their Asian land war by cooking the books (i.e., inflating numbers of enemies killed and/or captured).
In December, Petraeus's command said a total of 4,100 Taliban rank and file had been captured in the previous six months and 2,000 had been killed.
Those figures were critical to creating a new media narrative hailing the success of SOF operations as reversing what had been a losing U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
But it turns out that more than 80 percent of those called captured Taliban fighters were released within days of having been picked up, because they were found to have been innocent civilians, according to official U.S. military data.
Even more were later released from the main U.S. detention facility at Bagram airbase called the Detention Facility in Parwan after having their files reviewed by a panel of military officers.
How do we know his command lied to the media? Because in September the press officer for the International Security Assistance Force admitted that of the number of captured Taliban claimed at that time only included "initial detainees. In November 2010, the commander of Task Force 435 admitted that over 80% of captured Taliban fighters were released within two weeks from June-November, 2010.
We also know this:
But during those six months, only 690 individuals were sent to Parwan, according to the Task Force 435 data – 17 percent of the 4,100 Taliban rank and file claimed captured as "Taliban".
The total of 690 detainees also includes an unknown number of commanders counted separately by Petraeus and a large number of detainees who were later released from Parwan. Considering those two factors, the actual proportion of those claimed as captured Taliban who were found not to be part of the Taliban organisation rises to 90 percent or even higher.
Petraeus also claimed in December 2010 that 2000 Taliban fighters had been killed by our forces during the same six month period of June 1-November 30, 2010. Did he lie about those numbers also, or did he just uncritically accept the reports from the field?
So much for all the "momentum" and "success" we are having eradicating the Taliban. Just as in the Vietnam War, body counts appear more and more to be to be highly inaccurate and a poor metric for accessing the Military's success in defeating our enemies. Yet, once again the media and perhaps even the President has been misled based on beatifically inflated numbers. The same thing happened in Iraq. You would think we would have learned by now.