Report Cites Security Progress in Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2011 - 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.

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