Afghanistan-Pakistan Review Charts Progress in Strategy

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 — The Afghanistan and Pak­istan Annu­al Review, released today, offers a nation­al secu­ri­ty staff-led assess­ment of U.S. strat­e­gy in Afghanistan and Pak­istan.
A sum­ma­ry of the report reaf­firms the strategy’s “core goal” to dis­rupt, dis­man­tle, and even­tu­al­ly defeat al-Qai­da in the Afghanistan-Pak­istan region and pre­vent its return to either coun­try.

Spe­cif­ic com­po­nents of the strat­e­gy are work­ing well, the sum­ma­ry notes, par­tic­u­lar­ly in weak­en­ing al-Qaida’s senior lead­er­ship in Pak­istan and arrest­ing the Taliban’s momen­tum in Afghanistan.

The chal­lenge remain­ing, the review sum­ma­ry states, is “to make our gains durable and sus­tain­able.”

Durable progress rests on deny­ing al-Qai­da safe haven in west­ern Pak­istan and restor­ing basic sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty in Afghanistan, accord­ing to the review.

The surge of U.S. and inter­na­tion­al mil­i­tary and civil­ian resources begin­ning in July has enabled progress and is “set­ting the con­di­tions to begin the respon­si­ble reduc­tion of U.S. forces in July 2011,” the sum­ma­ry states.

Though weak­ened, al-Qai­da remains a threat to the Unit­ed States and its inter­ests, and Pak­istan and Afghanistan con­tin­ue to be the oper­a­tional base for the group respon­si­ble for the 9/11 attacks, the summary’s authors wrote. Pak­istan is cen­tral to U.S. efforts to defeat al-Qai­da and relat­ed groups, and there has been “sub­stan­tial but uneven” progress in rela­tions with that coun­try over the past year, they added.

“We worked joint­ly in the last year to dis­rupt the threat posed by al-Qai­da, and Pak­istan has made progress against extrem­ist safe havens, tak­ing action in six of sev­en agen­cies of the Fed­er­al­ly Admin­is­tered Trib­al Areas,” the summary’s authors wrote.

The review rec­om­mends greater coop­er­a­tion with Pak­istan along the bor­der with Afghanistan and advis­es link­ing effec­tive devel­op­ment strate­gies with mil­i­tary action as the best means to deny insur­gent safe havens.

“In 2011,” the sum­ma­ry says, “we must strength­en our dia­logue with both Pak­istan and Afghanistan on region­al sta­bil­i­ty,” a dia­logue that will con­tin­ue in part through meet­ings between the sec­re­tary of state and for­eign min­is­ters from both coun­tries.

U.S. strat­e­gy is set­ting the con­di­tions to begin tran­si­tion to Afghan secu­ri­ty lead in ear­ly 2011 and to begin a respon­si­ble, con­di­tions-based U.S. troop reduc­tion in July 2011, accord­ing to the review sum­ma­ry.

“More­over, at the recent NATO Lis­bon Sum­mit, we forged a broad Afghan and inter­na­tion­al con­sen­sus, agree­ing on a path to com­plete tran­si­tion by the end of 2014,” the summary’s authors wrote. “Even after we draw down our com­bat forces, the U.S. will con­tin­ue to sup­port Afghanistan’s devel­op­ment and secu­ri­ty as a strate­gic part­ner, just as the NATO-Afghanistan part­ner­ship affirms the broad­er and endur­ing inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty sup­port to Afghanistan.”

Progress is most evi­dent in the gains Afghan and coali­tion forces are mak­ing in clear­ing the Tal­iban heart­land of Kan­da­har and Hel­mand provinces, accord­ing to the review sum­ma­ry, and in the sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased size and improved capa­bil­i­ty of Afghan secu­ri­ty forces.

ISAF and the Afghan gov­ern­ment have also adopt­ed a robust part­ner­ing plan that has accel­er­at­ed tac­ti­cal-lev­el devel­op­ment of Afghan forces’ lead­er­ship and units,” although sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ment chal­lenges remain,” the sum­ma­ry notes.

“Con­sol­i­dat­ing those gains will require that we make more progress with Pak­istan to elim­i­nate sanc­tu­ar­ies for vio­lent extrem­ist net­works,” the sum­ma­ry con­cludes. “Dura­bil­i­ty also requires con­tin­ued work with Afghanistan to trans­fer cleared areas to their secu­ri­ty forces.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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