Building on several previously completed studies of civilian casualties (CIVCAS) in Afghanistan, the US Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) Joint Center for Operational Analysis (JCOA) partnered with Ms. Sarah Sewall of Harvard University to conduct an independent and comprehensive assessment of civilian casualties, the Joint Civilian Casualty Study, published in August 2010. The Commander, International Security Assistance Force (COMISAF), responded to this assessment by stating that more work was needed to ensure that the DOTMLPF changes required to reduce and mitigate CIVCAS were institutionalized. Accordingly, COMISAF requested that JCOA, with the support of the Services, conduct a study to “examine the institutionalization of CIVCAS lessons learned into US forces’ preparation for deployment, with a focus on the unique context of Afghanistan.” That study, Adaptive Learning for Afghanistan (ALA), examined ways in which lessons and adaptations in theater were captured, shared, and incorporated into force preparation. In this respect, ALA was not “another CIVCAS study,” but rather, it used CIVCAS as a test case for characterizing the overall process of adaptive learning.
The human cost of the armed conflict in Afghanistan is escalating in 2010. In the first six months of the year civilian casualties – including deaths and injuries of civilians – increased by 31 per cent over the same period in 2009. Three quarters of all civilian casualties were linked to Anti-Government Elements (AGEs), an increase of 53 per cent from 2009. At the same time, civilian casualties attributed to Pro-Government Forces (PGF) decreased by 30 per cent compared to the first half of 2009.