One of the main themes of the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy is a "population focus." It is supposed to help install Afghan civil administration and security forces and leave them to maintain security and practically assist the population. To make this possible, Afghan security force numbers are to be raised to 400,000 and Afghan government legitimacy, responsiveness and accountability are to be boosted.
Unfortunately, none of this is going to happen by 2011. Success requires more time and political action than backers have been prepared to contemplate. Taliban fighters keep on popping up, making good their losses and adapting to the International Security Assistance Force campaign.
In the face of a resilient insurgency, U.S. and Afghan timelines do not match.
Read the full commentary from Michael Semple, a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.