Is there a difference between humanitarian efforts and military strategy for success in Afghanistan? Not sure, but I know there should'nt be. So do we have success stories in Afghanistan? Yep, we do, and here is one: Kunar Province.
Aparently, despite recent reports in most media outlets, the U.S. Military is reporting that Kunar Province has actually improved significantly. So what is the deal with this province? Well...
During both the Soviet occupation, and the more recent conflicts involving U.S., Afghan and NATO forces, Kunar has been a favoured spot of insurgent groups. Its impenetrable terrain, extensive cave networks and border with the semi-autonomous Pakistani NorthWest Frontier PRovince provides several advantages for militant groups. The province is informally known as "Enemy Central" by American troops.
Like many of the mountainous eastern provinces of Afghanistan, the groups involved in armed conflict vary greatly in strength and purpose. Native Taliban forces mingle with foreign AL-Qaeda (al-Qaida) fighters, while mujahadeen militias, such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, continue to operate as they did in the chaotic post-Soviet years. Another strong militia in the region is the Hezbi Islami faction of the late Mulavi Younas Khalis, who had his headquarters in neighbouring Nurestan Province.
Compounding the problems of the province is an extensive criminal trade in smuggled lumber and other natural resources. This criminal activity is often organized along tribal lines, and has led to intense deforestation in some areas.
Yes, it is true that the Province is experiencing an increase in projects and services by the U.S. military, and yes, the numbers of casualties are much less than the ones experienced under Soviet rule, but is this a good comparison? It's still poor, still dangerous, still infiltrated by insurgents. Hey, this is Afghanistan remember...we tend to leave before the mission is complete. Thinks we will follow our pattern?