German parliament votes to end Afghan combat mission by 2014
German Bundeswehr soldiers patrol high ground during a regular patrol on October 11, 2010 in Narwan, Afghanistan.
January 28th, 2011
12:39 PM ET

German parliament votes to end Afghan combat mission by 2014

The German parliament voted Friday to end Germany's combat mission in Afghanistan by 2014.

For the first time, the mandate authorizing the use of German troops in Afghanistan contains a time frame for the nation's troops to withdraw, said Guido Westerwelle, the foreign minister.

The mandate includes a 12-month extension of the current military mission in Afghanistan, the German Bundestag or parliamentary news office said.

"It is confirmation of the work of the government that we're not just lengthening the mandate, but that we're saying that it shouldn't be endless," Westerwelle said.

Germany has 4,590 troops serving with NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan
U.S. watchdog warns billions invested in Afghan security at risk
January 24th, 2011
12:18 PM ET

U.S. watchdog warns billions invested in Afghan security at risk

Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars spent to train, equip and support Afghanistan security forces may end up wasted, according to the watchdog of reconstruction spending.

The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, retired Marine Gen. Arnold Fields, in what may be his final public event before he retires next month, painted a starkly pessimistic picture of what lies ahead in Afghanistan. FULL POST

Did Biden commit U.S. to longer engagement in Afghanistan?
January 12th, 2011
08:29 AM ET

Did Biden commit U.S. to longer engagement in Afghanistan?

During the Obama administration's review of its Afghan policy, Vice President Joe Biden was a fierce advocate for a narrowly focused counterterrorism strategy.

He had long been skeptical of the more expansive counterinsurgency approach with 30,000 additional troops ultimately decided upon by the president, arguing that pursuing al Qaeda targets in Pakistan and on the Afghan border was a smarter way to go.

Like any good second-in-command who has been overruled, Biden got on board with the president's new direction. Still, he has been openly critical of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's lackluster efforts to tackle corruption and has questioned his credibility as a partner. FULL POST

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
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
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 9th, 2010
12:19 PM ET

In midst of Afghan review, Pentagon officials suddenly circumspect

It was a double-take, what-did-he-say moment at the Pentagon Wednesday morning when the official spokesman ducked a question about whether the U.S. military is making progress in Afghanistan.

Usually that would have been a slam-dunk for the military. Defense Department officials miss no opportunity to point out successes and highlight achievements in the war in Afghanistan - usually. But the latest, looming, soon-to-be released White House review of Afghanistan strategy is stifling such talk for now.

"I'm not one to judge," said Col. Dave Lapan about progress in Afghanistan, at the regular off-camera meeting in his Pentagon office. "There are lots of people who have been intimately involved in this process. I'm not one of them so I'm not going to give my idea."

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November 19th, 2010
01:01 PM ET

Official: Transition to Afghan control could start in early 2011

The U.S. and NATO allies are looking to turn two or three Afghanistan provinces over to Afghan control by June of next year, with "several more" in the in the summer or fall, according to a senior NATO

While the plan is still a rough estimate of transition, the picture of how Afghans will begin to take over security by as early as March 2011 in some areas is beginning to emerge as NATO leaders and Afghan President Hamid Karzai
meet in Lisbon for meetings on the war.

Officials say there is no set goal to define "success," but the expectation is that some provinces would be handed over even before the U.S. deadline to begin removing some troops from Afghanistan.

November 19th, 2010
10:14 AM ET

Biden: 'Take the training wheels off' in Afghanistan

While defending the military surge in Afghanistan after eight years of what he termed "neglect," Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that Afghan leaders could soon be left on their own, whether they're ready or not.

"We had to say, 'Look, you've got to step up, man,'" Biden said Thursday on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"Let me tell you, we're going to start - Daddy is going to start to take the training wheels off ... next July, so you'd better practice riding."

Biden said that President Barack Obama charged him with reexamining the Afghan conflict soon after coming into office, and since then U.S.-led forces have made "significant progress against al Qaeda." He said that U.S. forces and officials have done a great deal to help the Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai, including working with Afghans to improve their governance and security capabilities.

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Filed under: Biden • Decision: Afghanistan • Obama
November 16th, 2010
02:39 PM ET

Canada plans for non-combat transition in Afghanistan

Canada, which is ending its combat mission in Afghanistan in
July, on Tuesday announced "a new role" to play in the war-torn nation, with a
focus on security, diplomacy, human rights and development.

"Building on strengths and accomplishments over the past years, Canada is
committed to helping build a more secure, stable and self-sufficient
Afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven for terrorists," said Foreign
Minister Lawrence Cannon.