David Silbey at Edge of the American West presents a graph of coalition fatalities in Afghanistan, 2010-2012, and writes that the downward trend suggests that the coalition is "winning militarily." He adds that whether this constitutes "victory" in a larger sense would require more discussion.
I'm not an expert on counterinsurgency. You want Dan Trombly, Abu Muqawama, Adam Elkus, and that whole crowd. As readers of this blog know (all one or two of them), I'm not really an expert on anything. (If I were, presumably I'd have a job, right? But then I probably wouldn't have time to blog and what a loss that would be to the world of discourse. Criminy, I'm starting to sound like J. Otto Pohl, who spent months online repeatedly bemoaning the unfairness of his having to teach in Ghana, while simultaneously proclaiming how great Ghana is.)
Anyway, to the point. I am skeptical of Silbey's suggestion. Surely what matters in measuring success in a counterinsurgency is the eventual outcome, not the casualty trends. I hope someone who knows something in real detail about, say, France's war in Algeria (to take one prominent historical example) will tell me whether I'm right about this.
P.s. (added later): Note, btw, Laleh Khalili's new book Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (Stanford U.P.). I might buy this. On the other hand, inspired by the rhetoric at the Republican convention, I could take the money I would spend on this book and use it to start a small business instead. If only there weren't so many burdensome taxes and regulations. Tsk, tsk.