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DOD Releases Afghanistan Report

The US Defense Department delivered a report to Congress this week providing an update on progress in Afghanistan from the period October 2009 to the end of March 2010.  Titled "Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan", the congressionally mandated report is extensive at 152 pages and covers everything from troop numbers in country to the details of ISAF counter-narcotics policy.

I have not read the entire report yet, but here are some highlights from the Executive Summary:

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Violence is up but Afghanis feel more secure

“Polls consistently illustrate that Afghans see security as improved from a year ago. At the same time violence is sharply above the seasonal average for the previous year – an 87% increase from February 2009 to March 2010.”  The report says that while violence has increased, this is largely due to increased ISAF activity.
 
US, partner-country, and Afghani force levels are increasing

US presence:
 “On March 31, 2010 there were approximately 87,000 U.S. forces and approximately 46,500 international forces in Afghanistan… force levels expected to approach 98,000 by August 2010.”

"The President’s strategy is dependent not only on the application of military capability, but also on increased civilian capacity. Since January 2009, the Department of State (DoS) has more than tripled the number of civilians on the ground in Afghanistan to 992. The increase in civilian personnel is a reflection of the President’s strategy to increase civil military cooperation at all levels of operations."

International presence:
"International force levels continue to grow at an approximately proportional rate to the U.S. force increase. Currently, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has accepted force increase offers from 38 countries with multiple capabilities for operations, tactics, and training. Offers totaling approximately 9,000 troops have been received from NATO and non-NATO partners since the President’s December speech."

Afghani force development:
"As of March 31, approximately 113,000 Afghan National Army (ANA) and 102,000 Afghan National Police(ANP) have been fielded. The Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) are broadly on track to meet targeted growth figures of 134,000 ANA and 109,000 ANP by October 2010 and171,600 ANA and 134,000 ANP by October 2011."

ISAF strategy focused on working with Afghani forces to clear and hold key districts, protect civilians

The ISAF population-centric COIN campaign identifies 80 key districts and 41 area of interest districts, for which ISAF Joint Command has assessed they have the resources to focus on 48.

"Operationally, ISAF, in coordination with the Afghan Government, has commenced conduct of clear, hold, build, sustain, and transition operations throughout Afghanistan as part of an 18-month civil-military campaign plan... Combined ISAF, ANSF, and Afghan and international civilians continue to make progress in Marjah. Consolidating gains and continuing to deny the Taliban the ability to re-establish a foothold will be the focus for continued operations. These events collectively demonstrate the increasing proficiency of the ANSF and increased engagement by the Afghan Government."

"In the planning and execution of all operations, COMISAF’s first priority is to protect the Afghan population, and in this regard, the population is telling us the trends are positive. From July to November, there was a 50% increase in the proportion of Afghans that saw security improve."

Support for the Karzai government is anemic

"The overall assessment indicates that the population sympathizes with or supports the Afghan Government in 24% (29 of 121) of all Key Terrain and Area of Interest districts."

US supports Karzai's reintegration program

"The U.S. Government has stated that it supports Afghan-led reintegration to assimilate peacefully into Afghan society those insurgent fighters and leaders who renounce violence, sever all ties with al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, and abide by the Afghan constitution."
 
US has embraced a new counter-narcotics strategy

"A cross-cutting issue, impacting all aspects of Afghan Government and economics, is the narcotics trade…The CN Strategy reflects lessons learned from CN activities from 2001 through 2008 – the most significant of which is that large-scale eradication targeted toward Afghan poppy farmers was counterproductive and drove farmers toward the insurgency. The new strategy places primary focus on interdiction of the nexus between narco-trafficking and the insurgency, but also places a heavy emphasis on agricultural assistance to farmers, with the aim of transitioning them to licit crops, creating jobs, and revitalizing Afghanistan’s historically vibrant agricultural sector.
"

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Media Reaction to the report:

  • US releases damning Afghan report ahead of Karzai visit - BBC
  • Report: Encouraging trends in Afghanistan despite rise in violence - CNN
  • Pentagon says instability in Afghanistan has leveled off - Washington Post
  • Report Notes Afghanistan Developments, Challenges - American Forces Press Service
  • Pakistan shifts troops from India to Afghan border: Pentagon - Hindustan Times (discusses the shift of over 100,000 Pakistani forces from the border with India to the tribal regions in the West)
  • Pentagon hails 'substantial improvements' in US-Pakistan defense ties - AP of Pakistan

Full Report:
http://www.defense.gov/pubs/pdfs/Report_Final_SecDef_04_26_10.pdf

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