December 16th, 2010
03:46 PM ET

Obama trumpets U.S. gains in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama asserted Thursday that the United States is making significant progress in the nine-year war in Afghanistan, but warned that the conflict "continues to be a very difficult endeavor."

We are "on track to achieve our goals" of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda and eroding "its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future," he said. The gains, however, are fragile.

The president noted, among other things, that there has been a "successful increase" in the recruitment and training of Afghan forces due partly to the July 2011 deadline set by the administration to start withdrawing the U.S. military.

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Filed under: Obama • Obama's Afghan review
December 16th, 2010
03:42 PM ET

Opinion: Rethink 'fight then talk' in Afghanistan

Editor's note: Patrick Doherty is the director of the Smart Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Despite tangible military progress in Afghanistan in recent months, the success of the Obama administration's strategy for Afghanistan will be determined by the measure of political and economic progress it brings.

For the last two years, American strategy in Afghanistan has followed the framework of "fight then talk." Under this thinking, the Taliban needed to be weakened before negotiations would begin.

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Opinion
December 16th, 2010
08:11 AM ET

'Gains remain fragile and reversible'

“These gains remain fragile and reversible.”

From a strictly military point of view, this sentence in President Barack Obama's review of the Afghan war may be the most critical. U.S. and coalition forces can’t turn over security to Afghans if local security forces can’t hold an area — and that’s the key to U.S. forces coming home.

And the key question: Is any of the stated progress actually enduring and permanent? FULL POST

December 16th, 2010
07:58 AM ET

War review: Still on course for July 2011 withdrawal

The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan has shown some progress but the "challenge remains to make our gains durable and sustainable," the White House said in a new report Thursday.

The United States was also still on course to bring some troops home from Afghanistan as soon as July 2011 and continue to move toward the goal of having Afghans take the lead in security in the country in 2014, the report said.

The report, which is called the "Overview of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Annual Review," is part of President Barack Obama's assessment of the war in the region. FULL POST


Filed under: Obama's Afghan review
December 16th, 2010
07:56 AM ET

Bomb strikes minibus, kills 14 civilians

At least 14 family members heading to a engagement party in western Afghanistan were killed when a minibus struck a roadside bomb, a local official said.

The incident took place in Herat province, which has not been regularly engulfed in the brutal warfare seen in other regions - such as the east and the south. FULL POST


Filed under: Civilian deaths
December 16th, 2010
07:54 AM ET

The state of Afghanistan

While the U.S. military delivers its assessment on the strategy on the war in Afghanistan on Thursday, CNN's Nic Robertson carried out an informal review of his own. Having covered Afghanistan since the 1990s, Robertson revisited some of the places he'd reported from over the years to see what had changed.

Here's a round-up of some of the reporting:

Afghans struggle on road to better future: For ordinary Afghans, insecurity, instability and lack of development have been the only real constants.

In Herat, Robertson found a governor frustrated with his government in trying to move projects forward and a new road project completed near a school that leaves the U.S. with an image Catch-22.

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Filed under: Kandahar • Obama's Afghan review • Taliban • Troops