Report Cites Security Progress in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — Coali­tion and Afghan forces made tremen­dous progress over the past three months in Afghanistan, accord­ing to the Report on Progress Toward Secu­ri­ty and Sta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan that was sub­mit­ted to Con­gress today.

The report, which indi­cates that lev­els of vio­lence fell in most of Afghanistan, cov­ers the peri­od from the begin­ning of April through the end of Sep­tem­ber. How­ev­er, the east­ern bor­der area of the coun­try remains a prob­lem, accord­ing to the report.

Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces, the report said, made great strides in the past months in both quan­ti­ty of recruits and the train­ing. And Afghan units are tak­ing over the secu­ri­ty mis­sion in sev­en areas of the coun­try con­tain­ing rough­ly 25 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

“Although secu­ri­ty con­tin­ues to improve, the insurgency’s safe havens in Pak­istan, as well as the lim­it­ed capac­i­ty of the Afghan gov­ern­ment, remain the biggest threats to the process of turn­ing secu­ri­ty gains into a durable, sta­ble Afghanistan,” the report said.

Al-Qai­da in Afghanistan has been bat­tered, the report not­ed, and coali­tion and Afghan forces have made gains against the over­all insur­gency. Still, the report said, the insur­gency remains resilient with the safe havens inside Pak­istan pro­vid­ing areas for insur­gents to recu­per­ate and resup­ply and plan and train for attacks in Afghanistan.

Insur­gents have launched a num­ber of high-pro­file attacks in Afghanistan, the report said. Yet, after five years of increas­ing insur­gent attacks, this past year saw a reduc­tion in such attacks over the past year and they con­tin­ue to decline. The report says the most progress has been made in Region­al Com­mand South­west. Still, the report said, there is mea­sur­able and sig­nif­i­cant progress in Region­al Com­mands North, South and West, as well.

“The secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion in Region­al Com­mand East, how­ev­er, remains ten­u­ous,” the report says. “Cross-bor­der inci­dents have risen dur­ing the report­ing peri­od as a result of the sanc­tu­ary and sup­port that the insur­gency receives from Pak­istan.”

In the cen­ter of RC-East is Region­al Com­mand Cap­i­tal, which con­tains Kab­ul, Afghanistan’s cap­i­tal city. Afghan forces have estab­lished a lay­ered defense sys­tem around Kab­ul, which is an insur­gent tar­get. This has result­ed in improved secu­ri­ty in the cap­i­tal, but the area remains at risk.

The Afghan secu­ri­ty forces con­tin­ue to make progress, the report said. There are cur­rent­ly about 97,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. By the end of the year, accord­ing to the report, that num­ber will drop by 10,000.

By Novem­ber 2012, the report said, anoth­er 23,000 U.S. troops will depart. By the end of 2014, all U.S. com­bat troops will be out of Afghanistan and Afghan forces will be in charge of the country’s secu­ri­ty mis­sion.

The Afghan gov­ern­ment approved an increase in the country’s secu­ri­ty forces from 305,600 mem­bers by the end of Octo­ber 2011 to 352,000 mem­bers by the end of Octo­ber 2012, the report said.. At the end of Sep­tem­ber 2011, there were 170,781 Afghan sol­diers and 136,122 police.

Over­all, the secu­ri­ty gains have laid a secure foun­da­tion for tran­si­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ties to the Afghans, the report says. The con­tin­u­ing coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paign has “degrad­ed” the Tal­iban insur­gency.

The draw­down of Amer­i­can forces does not mean a diminu­tion of Amer­i­can sup­port for Afghanistan, accord­ing to the report. The strat­e­gy in Afghanistan, the report not­ed, is pro­duc­ing suc­cess and will con­tin­ue to be the bedrock for com­bat­ing the insur­gents for the near future.

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