A new Pentagon report states that enemy attacks have declined 16 percent since last year, but the U.S.-led coalition still faces potent challenges as the U.S. and NATO prepare to withdraw troops and turn over security responsibilities to Afghan forces.
What’s more, the report warns that the Taliban is determined to make a comeback this spring and summer.
The insurgency can place large numbers of roadside bombs and carry out “high-profile attacks that disproportionately fuel a sense of insecurity,” the report says.
The high number of U.S. casualties reveals a still-volatile war zone after nearly 11 years of war.
“It’s about building a nation that has institutions to support it over time and can provide for its own security.
“[It’s about] creating some space by lowering violence while we build up the [Afghan] national security forces.”
According to the report, Afghan forces have “made impressive strides in performance” and take the lead in more than 40 percent of joint Afghan-NATO operations.
“The insurgency’s safe haven in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan government, remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a durable and sustainable Afghanistan,” the report states.
Defense analyst Anthony H. Cordesman said the potential for progress in either area before the end of 2014 is doubtful.
There is little evidence that Afghan pledges to end corruption will produce anything more than symbolism, he said, adding that intensive Pakistani action against militant safe havens is unlikely.
“Most of the data that you see is on the tactical progress of the war,” he said. “[But] these aren’t the metrics you want to use if you really want to understand this war, which is essentially control of the population.”
The semiannual report includes for the first time since its first publication in 2008 a section on “green-on-blue” incidents in which Afghan troops turned their weapons on U.S. or coalition members.
“While statistically small in number, green-on-blue attacks have a significant negative operational and strategic impact on the coalition mission in Afghanistan,” the report states.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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