AFGHANISTAN IN TRANSITION: A Global Review (2012-2013) of IEDs and ERW in Afghanistan


By The Civil-Military Fusion Centre (CFC)


This paper provides a summary and trend analysis of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Mine/Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) incidents in Afghanistan. The analytical scope covers 2012 through first quarter 2013 by comparing incidents between these dates with older data. The report studies the IED & Mine/ ERW issues in Afghanistan via three main criteria: the frequency of insurgent attacks; the volume of IED occurrences and the IED human casualty rates in the country. The report demonstrates that insurgent and IED-laying activities were concentrated in the southern, eastern and southeastern regions of Afghanistan. The report also shows clear correlations between the regional IED attacks volumes with the local casualty rates. This study makes use of several sources in order to conduct a broad assessment of recent IED and Mine/ERW activity. The Afghan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) is a non-military, non-government forum whose members include an array of non-governmental organisations. Its data collection benefits from its robust membership of over 250 NGOs in the field, and its analyses include quarterly and annual reports on casualty figures, IED activities and civilian fatalities. The report also incorporates figures reported by NATO’s Centre of Excellence-Defence Against Terrorism (COE-DAT) and the Bundeswehr Counter-IED Centre. Finally, in-depth reports from major media outlets such as The Guardian, which have conducted periodic reviews of IED-related violence throughout the conflict, are also included. These present an objective source, impartial to the interests of both humanitarian organisations and military agencies.

Since the start of the war, the majority of all ISAF fatalities occurred in southern and southeastern Afghanistan. In a given year, roughly 45 – 50 per cent of ISAF fatalities resulted from an IED incident, totalling 51 per cent of all ISAF fatalities since 2001. Tactics vary. Since at least 2010, insurgents have often used pressure plate IEDs (PPIEDs), which are victim-activated. Additionally, IED tactics involving suicide and complex attacks (combined attacks involving explosives and firearms) became more common in areas populated by civilians. The first quarter of 2013 (Q1 2013) marked intensified conflict activity. Statistics show an increase of 47 per cent of insurgent activities compared to the same period last year. Insurgency IED capability remained the biggest conflict-related threat to the lives of Afghan children, women and men in 2012. In 2012, UNAMA documented 782 IED incidents – more than two IEDs per day – which resulted in 2,531 civilian casualties. In Helmand and Ghazni, the insurgency has been emboldened by an aggressive ISAF posture ahead of their final “fighting” campaign; before the 2014 withdrawal and the full security hand over.

By considering datasets from a range of military, government and NGO sources, the paper demonstrates a correlation exists between insurgent presence in specific provinces and the registered volume of IED occurrences in those same provinces. Finally, civilian organisations and humanitarian groups suffered heavy casualties during the period analysed in this paper. In 2012, targeted IED NGO strikes rose by 78 per cent while IED incidents accidentally inflicting NGO casualties increased by 70 per cent. ■


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Full paper is available here: A Global Review (2012-2013) of IEDs and ERW in Afghanistan.pdf