By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2011 - 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.
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