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.


Filed under: Kandahar • Obama's Afghan review • Taliban • Troops
December 15th, 2010
12:04 PM ET

Obama's Afghan review: As the war drags on, just a formality?

The game has changed in Afghanistan since President Obama last year laid out his plan to tame the Taliban and start withdrawing troops. While U.S. military officials boast of significant gains in the militants' southern strongholds in recent months thanks in large part to the President's troop surge, they caution that it won't be possible to fully gauge the impact until fighting picks up again in the spring. And even in the best-case scenario, it will still take at least four more years to complete a full handover to Afghan security forces. So as the Obama Administration this week undertakes the review of Afghan strategy promised 12 months ago, the White House — in deference to the military's view that more time is needed — has signaled that no major changes are under consideration. This week's assessment of the state of the war in Afghanistan has become little more than a formality. "[The review] is definitely not as significant as it was, which is good for the Department of Defense," says a senior U.S. officer serving in Afghanistan.

The writing has been on the wall for months. When the President told West Point cadets last December that he was deploying 30,000 extra troops to the conflict, he made clear that he believed he was raising the force level in order to create conditions to hasten U.S. withdrawal. But shortly after the speech, Administration and military officials began to downplay the July 2011 date Obama had named for the beginning of that drawdown.

Read more from TIME's Jason Motlagh

Filed under: Obama's Afghan review
December 15th, 2010
10:22 AM ET

White House official: War review won't change U.S. withdrawal plans

A review of the war in Afghanistan coming out this week won't change current plans to start withdrawing some U.S. troops in July, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs indicated Tuesday.

"The view is that our transition can begin - the conditions-based transition of our added forces - in July 2011," Gibbs said of the planned withdrawal of some of the additional forces ordered to Afghanistan a year ago by President Barack Obama.

Gibbs spoke to reporters after a nearly two-hour meeting involving Obama and all of his senior Cabinet and military advisers to go over the upcoming review. Obama will make a public statement about the review on Thursday, Gibbs said.

Post by:
Filed under: Obama • Obama's Afghan review • Pakistan
Photo spotlight: Reviewing strategy
December 14th, 2010
02:50 PM ET

Photo spotlight: Reviewing strategy

President Barack Obama meets the national security team during a monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room of the White House.

A long-awaited U.S. military analysis of the war in Afghanistan is expected later this week, a year after President Obama ordered additional U.S. troops to the country as part of a strategy that could bring some forces home as soon as July 2011. Officials have said the goal is to end combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014.

December 14th, 2010
02:19 PM ET

Renewed U.S. concerns about Karzai

As the U.S. readies its Afghan war review, a critical concern is Afghanistan's president. CNN's Barbara Starr reports.

December 14th, 2010
10:57 AM ET

Obama to review post-Holbrooke Afghan policy

President Barack Obama is set to huddle behind closed doors with his national security team Tuesday to review the administration's policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan - one day after the unexpected death of his diplomatic point man for the region.

Veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, America's special envoy to the so-called "AfPak" region, died Monday while being treated at a Washington hospital for a tear in his aorta.

Obama's monthly review of policy toward the pivotal region, however, is scheduled to continue, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon among those in attendance. FULL POST

December 13th, 2010
02:01 PM ET

Weak Afghan rule of law thwarts security

The surge of troops have improved Kandahar security, but U.S. commanders face problems with Afghan politics. Nic Robertson reports.