Tags: US | US | Afghanistan

War Report Offers Tempered Optimism

Tuesday, 23 Nov 2010 06:10 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is citing some progress in the 9-year-old Afghanistan war in its latest biannual report to Congress, even as violence is on the rise and more Afghans say they fear for their safety.

The Pentagon-led assessment, released Tuesday, describes progress as fragile but holding. Officials said the findings represent a slight improvement from previous months.

The report is an early look into the kind of cautious assessment expected to reach President Barack Obama's desk next month. The December review is supposed to determine whether Obama's war strategy, which includes a buildup of some 30,000 troops, is succeeding in breaking the momentum of the Taliban insurgency.

"The deliberate application of our strategy is beginning to have cumulative effects and security is slowly beginning to expand," states the report, which looks at operations from April through Sept. 30.

Still, the report adds, the number of Afghans rating their security situation as "bad" is the highest its been since 2008 with "kinetic events" increasing by more than half during the summer.

The report attributes the uptick in violence to increased fighting between U.S.-led forces and the Taliban.

A senior defense official said the Pentagon views the war as an "extraordinarily dynamic situation." The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said officials believe that much has already changed since the report's Sept. 30 end date, including military progress in the key city of Kandahar.

The U.S. has about 100,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan; other countries have about 40,000.

At the NATO summit in Lisbon last weekend, European countries eagerly embraced an agreement to begin handing off security responsibility to the Afghans in early 2011 with full transition targeted by the end of 2014.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO war commander in Afghanistan, said Tuesday in Paris that the coalition's goal in Afghanistan is not to turn the war-torn country into a democratic republic like Switzerland, but rather to raise its security and governance to a level when Afghans can take the lead.

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