Report Shows Afghanistan Plan is Working, Official Says

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s lat­est report to Con­gress on Afghanistan details steady progress and shows the plan there is work­ing, a senior defense offi­cial speak­ing on back­ground told reporters here today.

The Report on Progress Toward Secu­ri­ty and Sta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan — com­mon­ly called “the 1230 report” for its cita­tion in the law that requires it — is the lat­est con­gres­sion­al­ly man­dat­ed report card on Afghanistan to Con­gress.

The reports, which have chart­ed the state of secu­ri­ty in Afghanistan, began in 2008.

“We have been describ­ing the sit­u­a­tion on the ground as it is,” the offi­cial said. In June 2008, the report said the Tal­iban had regrouped. In Jan­u­ary 2009, the report said con­di­tions had dete­ri­o­rat­ed and con­tin­ued to do so in June 2009.

The April 2010 report said the decline in secu­ri­ty had stopped, the offi­cial said, and the Novem­ber 2010 report said there were mod­est gains in secu­ri­ty.

“In this report, we’re say­ing there are impor­tant secu­ri­ty gains [and] reversed vio­lence trends in the coun­try, except the area along the Pak­istani bor­der,” he said.

The bot­tom line is the plan Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma rolled out in Decem­ber 2009 is work­ing, the offi­cial said.

“It was about revers­ing that dete­ri­o­ra­tion, it was about reduc­ing vio­lence through a com­bi­na­tion of mil­i­tary and civil­ian surge work­ing togeth­er on the group in Afghanistan,” he said. “Where we’ve been least suc­cess­ful is in [Region­al Com­mand] East, where we put the fewest [surge] troops and where the safe havens in Pak­istan are.”

The Afghan secu­ri­ty forces have been cru­cial to the progress, the offi­cial said, not­ing these forces are increas­ing in num­bers and qual­i­ty. Two years ago, the offi­cial said, few peo­ple enlist­ed in the Afghan army or police. Now, he added, the Afghan gov­ern­ment turns away thou­sands who can’t meet the new high­er stan­dards required by the secu­ri­ty forces.

“Their per­for­mance is the key to our abil­i­ty to con­tin­ue the with­draw­al … by the end of 2014,” he said.

Afghan forces are in the lead in sev­en areas of the coun­try cov­er­ing 25 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, the offi­cial said. Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai, he said, will announce the next areas to tran­si­tion to Afghan respon­si­bil­i­ty Nov. 2 dur­ing a meet­ing in Istan­bul.

Afghanistan still has prob­lems, the offi­cial said, not­ing the insur­gents there are resilient. But, he added, the insur­gents have been sig­nif­i­cant­ly weak­ened.

The safe havens in Pak­istan are a major stum­bling block, the offi­cial said, but in all oth­er areas of the coun­try and by almost any mea­sure, he added, con­di­tions in Afghanistan have improved.

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