Pentagon report sees some progress in Afghan war

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A Pentagon report on the war in Afghanistan made public on Tuesday concludes there are some signs indicating Afghan locals are turning against the Taliban, but stated that progress in the war is slow.

“Progress across the country remains uneven, with modest gains in security, governance, and development in operational priority areas,” said the latest report to Congress, “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan.”

The report said that “our strategy is beginning to have cumulative effects and security is slowly beginning to expand” noting that “although significant challenges exist, some signs of progress are evident.”

The report said the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is producing signs of progress.

“Indications of local resistance to insurgents continue to emerge alongside positive indications, such as newly opened schools and police stations,” the report said.

U.S. soldiers from First Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division set their positions Sunday in West Now Ruzi village, in Panjwai district, Afghanistan. (Associated Press)

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U.S. soldiers from First Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division set ... more >

Required twice a year by Congress since 2008, the progress report on the Afghan war will be followed by a White House review of the war effort due on the president’s desk next month.

Last week, the White House gave up on its initial goal to begin a major withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011.

President Obama last week asked NATO allies to remain in Afghanistan until 2014, when the military now expects to begin handing over responsibility to the Afghan military for security.

The report presents a mixed picture on efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. On the one hand, it points to increased capabilities of the Afghanistan National Security Forces, the local army that U.S. commander Gen. David H. Petraeus hopes his forces will train well enough to be able to take over local security efforts so U.S. troops can withdraw in 2014.

But the report also said local political institutions remain ineffective and corrupt.

“Widespread corruption complicates efforts to recruit, train, and retain quality personnel,” the report said. “Poor inter-ministerial coordination and the slow appointment of key cabinet and governorship offices limit effective governance.”

ISAF officers have long complained that the CIA continues to support Ahmed Wali Karzai, half brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who critics assert is one of Afghanistan’s most powerful heroin traffickers.

The report said the Taliban remains a threat to topple the government of Mr. Karzai.

“The Taliban have sufficient organizational capability and support to pose a threat to the government’s viability, particularly in the south. If the security situation erodes, regional stability will rapidly decline as well,” the report said.

Iran continues to be active in supporting all sides in the conflict. While Iran continues to try to influence the Karzai government in Kabul it is also providing “covert support for various insurgent and political opposition groups.”

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