November 8th, 2010
07:42 AM ET

U.S. hands over some territory to Afghan security forces

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (CNN) - While President Barack Obama and the military talk about transferring territory to the Afghans next summer, in many places across Afghanistan, largely out of public view, the handover of security, from U.S. to Afghan forces, has already begun on a small scale.

In the last several days, U.S. Marines in southern Afghanistan have handed over two small outposts to Afghan forces in the district of Nawa, a place which once saw heavy fighting, a senior ISAF official confirms to CNN.

Across the country, several small outposts have either been turned over to the Afghans, or U.S. troops have pulled out of areas because Afghan control is sufficient the official said. These moves are in advance of the broader turnover of entire provinces, districts and sub-districts to Afghan control that is expected to begin in 2011. However, coming just days before the mid-November NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, these minor moves will give the alliance, and the Obama administration, the ability to announce that transition on some scale has begun.

More about the transition of troops from CNN's Barbara Starr

The larger scale transition is now being intensively planned by US, NATO and Afghan officials according to several ISAF military officials. NATO is now calling it "Inteqal"-it means "transition" in both Dari and Pashtu according to NATO, but going down that road is a bit slower than first expected. Still succeeding at Inteqal will be the road home for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

At next month's NATO summit in Lisbon no announcements are now likely about specific areas of Afghanistan will be first to be turned over or transitioned to Afghan control, according to several officials representing member nations of the alliance. Instead NATO will simply announce that the transition process is underway and re-affirm Afghan security forces are expected to take the lead in conducting security operations across the country by the end of 2014. It's a process that will be very gradual.

In an exclusive interview with CNN last month, Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, said he does expect to be able to recommend to President Obama that the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan could begin to be reduced beginning in July 2011, but he declined to say how many troops might be headed home. He said some could also be re-assigned to other jobs inside Afghanistan.

Petraeus told CNN said that in just the last few weeks, he has seen progress against the Taliban momentum in some parts of Afghanistan. including west of Kandahar. "My assessment is that the momentum that the Taliban enjoyed until probably late summer, has broadly been arrested in the country. It doesn't mean, it's been arrested in every location in the country, but it means by and large that is the case, and moreover, more importantly, the ISAF and Afghan forces have achieved momentum in some very important areas."

One Western official confirmed to CNN that earlier this year there were indications that the alliance and the government of Hamid Karzai were ready to agree on the first several provinces that would be part of the transition process. but delays in establishing the final agreements are likely to mean now that no announcements will be made until early 2011.

Several months ago, U.S. military officials were privately indicating some of the first provinces turned over to Afghan control could include Parwan, Panjshir, and Bamiyan where violence has been relatively low.

Maj. Gen. John Campbell, commander of Regional Command-East, told CNN he also believes those three provinces will be some of the first to be turned over.

The French have also made it clear they would like to leave a district of Kabul province and turn it over to Afghan control.

NATO and the Afghan government have now established a joint process to assess which areas are ready for turnover based on several factors according to the western official who is familiar with the internal debate inside the alliance. A Joint Afghan-NATO Inteqal Board is being set up, provinces will be assessed, and the recommendations made to the Afghan Cabinet for final approval. But the official made clear while Afghan President Hamid Karzai will be the public face of transition–accepting control province by province–NATO will conduct detailed assessments of security, development and the ability of Afghans to govern in each area.

Once a province is turned over to Afghan control, that decision will be "irreversible' the Western official said. The reason: to make sure the Afghan government fully understands the serious implications of taking control and doesn't change its mind which could result in NATO troops having to re-enter an area at a future date.

An assessment of security in each province and the ability of Afghan forces to take over those functions will clearly be the major factor in deciding to begin the turnover process. The actual "metrics" or factors in assessing security will include the number of attacks on civilians, government officials and security forces as well as the freedom of movement by the local population, The Western official emphasized that no one is waiting to meet a standard of "no violence," but rather an assessment that Afghan forces can control and deal with the violence that occurs.

This entire NATO-Afghan process comes as Petraeus, the top commander, is both leading the NATO military assessment and preparing an end of the year U.S. assessment for Obama. Petraeus indicated that some of the work on that December assessment has already begun, but he hopes to have more data over the next several weeks showing a security improvement before he reports to the president.

Petraeus has a highly detailed set of security assessment factors for 83 so-called "key terrain districts, mainly in the south and east where violence has been the heaviest, a senior ISAF official told CNN. While those areas may not be ready for transition, the detailed assessment will give Petraeus a sense of security on an almost village by village basis.

The official emphasized however that "no believes there will be a tipping point before spring." ISAF wants to see if the gains made in recent weeks last through the winter. Petraeus is expressing the view that the recent step up in airstrikes have destroyed so many Taliban safe havens, IED factories and weapon caches that the insurgency may not be able to regroup after this winter.

The official said Petraeus' goal for the December White House review is to be able to tell the president that the current war plan is working and continued progress can be made in 2011.

Petraeus declined, of course, to spell out what he specifically plans to tell Obama. But he offered CNN this assessment. "There is no day in Afghanistan that doesn't have some bad news, the question is how much bad news, relative to how much if you will, how much good news. As a general assessment right now, the trajectory of the rollercoaster in Afghanistan is upward, and that is a change. We intend to maintain the pressure, to increase it."

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. LarryKegel(US Army)

    Apologist for Hamas: See No Evil, Hear No Evil

    A St. Petersburg Times correspondent stumbles blindly through Gaza, ignoring the worst aspects of Hamas rule.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. The Prophet Mohammed

    Hmm, I thought we were all God's children? The rest of you can relax, apparently God has a very dysfunctional family. Clearly he didn't discipline his Muslim children enough, now NATO is fixing God's mistake.
    CNN is horrible today, most of my posts are not taking, it's a CNN conspiracy.

    November 9, 2010 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. The Prophet Mohammed

    The land handover has begun to set the stage for the withdrawl of troops: Here Afghanistan, you can have these rocks back.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dindy.....

    well written DAN...ABOUT JEWS IN ISRAEL. They say they are 360 .But cant loose a small piece of land 🙂 And after all it is for Jews (God's children) That is why I said these people dont Know god 360. So greedy for small piece of land. If they are 360 ..they should not take the law to their hands. A neighbor of mine took big piece of my land and I never went to police or courts. But God solved the problem. I did not go to punish them. The neighbor is not a Jew even.

    November 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dindy.....

    Asad ......there are people who does not want to change with the world .But live like the way it used to be. If anyone think different than they do, the punishment is death. I understand what you say. Taliban will take back from Afghan security forces. In the first place as someone else also have said Taliban did not attack USA. Yet US is in your land to attack Al qeada. And Taliban does not like it . Because troops were there for so long.still the al qaeda is there too.
    So will your country reverse back to the way it was ? ? I read in your early post that your country was peaceful and hospitable before the invention of foreign troops. But in the book Kite runners.I have read a different story.
    was it really peaceful...without the new Kazai gvt and when the was Taliban ruling. .. US will leave sooner or later.The question is will the Afghan nation will able to continue the small projects they have started with the Aid workers? Or will the country go back to the way it was with very strict law of Taliban .

    November 8, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Asad

    by the time the Nato forces hands over some territory to Afghan security forces next day the white flag will rise and Taliban will get that territory in less than 24 hrs. bcz afghan security forces r not capable and most ethnic group pashtoon does not want to fight with Taliban bcz they r all from the same ethnic and they r the raciest people in the world no matter wt conflict they have but they r always united

    November 8, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      @ Asad- Yes, they are always united (except of course when each tribe is killing each other- which is all the time), Stupid people are drawn to Stupid People, there's a lot of stupid people there- you just can't escape gravity, besides they have something in common, I suspect they have something in common with you. Guess what that is?

      November 9, 2010 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. LarryKegel(US Army)

    How can anyone think that some one Besides the real GOD will have the say so about your sins??? The best way of making sure You don't sin is by not sinning!!! Because killing Yourself are thinking Jesus does it for You, You have to be crazy!!!

    November 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      Islam- Another worthless religeon based upon lies.

      November 9, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      @ Larry Good Post! "The best way to make sure you don't sin is by not sinning" I'm afraid that concept is difficult for most of them to get, especially when you can sin on Saturday and confess on Sunday, they seem to think they can continue to do that cycle over and over again.
      Personally I don't think you need to ask for forgiveness, say you are sorry or repent- If you are REALLY sorry, then YOU NEVER DO IT AGAIN. Better yet, don't do it in the first place.

      November 9, 2010 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dindy.....

    well written Dan. Thank you. It is easy for some people to just throw words . Yet the people who has faced terrorism only understand how bad it is and it is a issue to take serious. God bless the heroes who went Afghanistan and still work with Afghan people and also in the battle against Al- qeada..

    November 8, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      Please tell me what kind of terrorism we committed and I do not want to hear about our protecting the Jewish people from your terrorist acts! The Jewish people have the right and God's promise to live in the land of Israel and the Arabs have plenty of land to accommodate the Palestinian people! Israel is just a slice of land in the Middle-East!

      November 8, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      All 3 of You are Idiots with Your way of Thinking about GOD!!! Because There is only one GOD and that is the GOD the Jews Worship...

      November 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette, IN

        Sorry Larry Jesus is God, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

        November 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        Didn't the Jews murder God?

        November 9, 2010 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    BANBASH your an idiot! This war has nothing to do with American colonialism, but all to do with terrorism! We went into Afghanistan to get bin-laden but also to get rid of the terrorist regime called the Taliban which harbored terrorists and allowed them to train and plan attacks against the western world and I'm sure India would have been a target also! And now the Afghan people are standing up an armed force to battle the Taliban and terrorists with OUR and NATO's help! So do not put down America for standing up for it's rights!

    November 8, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |

      Sorry for your ignorance. kindly visit web to understand the facts behind the war on terror.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette, IN

        The facts are that the Islamic terrorists have been attacking American interests since the early 90's and we have lost nearly 3000 innocent American lives of all races on 9/11 and we are there because of IT!

        November 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        If that is where You get all You News??? You really have to be Stupid!!!

        November 8, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Dan In Lafayette,IN: Don't You know anyone that gets Their information from the internet has to be brain dead!!!

        November 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette, IN

        Yea and when you see the facts on live TV and they still try to deny that their terrorists tells you they are insane killers!

        November 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        The people of Afghanistan ASKED for help believe it not to rid themselves of the Taliban, that is why the US stayed. Sure we inveded to fight the Taliban in relataliation for 9/11 and the US was right for retaliating. We probably should have bombed the country back to rubble and left them to fend for themselves, but they asked the US and NATO for help, that is why we are there. Nothing more. There might be a Trillion dollars worth of gemstones but the US doesn't really wear all that guady crap, if it was all diamonds or Oil it would likely be a different story.

        November 9, 2010 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      Obama is a true Christian with love for all mankind and will do the best he can to bring the world together as one unlike your truth of 360 degrees which will kill all those who disagree with your insane ideology!

      November 8, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      You will see in the end when you call out to Him and He tells you to go away I never knew you! How could a forgiving and loving God be caring for people with the likes of you seeing you do not have a loving or forgiving spirit but a vengeful spirit with only hatred within your soul!

      November 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy.....

      Leave president Obama please. He is a good Man and the first lady too.

      November 8, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • kate

      Dindy. The President is indeed a good man but he is not also the first lady.

      November 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |

    Just in these moments I watch President Obama addressing Indian Lok Sabha, telling the world that America never impose their will on others and wish to see the world based on universal justice, equality and fraternity. How a leader of a super power status can say like this when his thousands of army men are busy in bombing, killing and destruction, in their occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, being extended to Pakistan? No doubt this step of handing over control to Afghans is right step in right direction as after all they have confessed of their miss judgment of Afghanistan's history when compare the cost they are paying for today. America should learn lesson from Afghanistan adventure and must change their colonial approach in dealing with rest of the world. America of today, is not the one, its founding fathers had made sacrifices for, as America had emerged in reaction against British colonialism and war for independence was fought with the spirit of universal justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. This, Americans, as a nation, have realized when they overwhelmingly voted for a change, by electing a black African American as a President of USA. Last two years of Obama in whit house, has proved that this Grand National verdict is not acceptable to US military establishment and other anti American elements. Obama has been punished for changing America in recent elections and once again the shareholders in MIC are advocating for prolonging the war in Afghanistan. As you sow so shall you reap is a law of nature which America too has to follow. Sooner, Afghanistan is handed over to Afghans, is better for their future otherwise this land has always changed the course of history and USA will be no exception.

    November 8, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Onesmallvoice

      Well stated,BANGASH. Just ignore all these right-wing fools who keep on spewing their own ignorance here!

      November 8, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andrew Lubin

    Well Done Marines!! But it's no surprise; when you push the Afghans to lead – they do it well. The Afghans need to continue to take ownership of the battlespace, unfortunately ISAF and the Army refuses to let them do so.

    November 8, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      It is funny how the Army did all the work and the Marines get all the credit!!! You must be either a Republican are a Tea Party Person??? They take credit of others and blame the other side for Their problems They made!!!

      November 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        @ Larry, You are always complaining about the Tea Pary and Republicans. I have new for you, they all stink, including the Democrats, we need to clean out Congress. If you did not vote- then quit complaining.

        November 9, 2010 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        The problem is,is the fact that we have two political parties both on the right. What we need is a third liberal party on the left which is free of corruption and will not play ball with the MIC(military-industrial-complex). Then we can concentrate on getting out of these useless wars and cut needless military spending and put the money back into our economy!

        November 9, 2010 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew Lubin

      Sorry folks,I never posted the above. It looks like this "Phunnie boy" just doesn't give up! Again I say,let the Afghans govern themselves free from any foreign domination!!!

      November 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        They haven't been able to Govern themselves so far becuase 1. They are Greedy and Corrupt. 2. Not enough of them care about thier country enough to serve thier country rather than steal from it and 3. They are too stupid to realize the US Cash Cow is going to eventually dry up (or so I hope) and leave them on thier own.

        November 9, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |