The NATO command in Afghanistan and a Pakistani diplomat took issue with a news report Tuesday that said some U.S. commanders are advocating "an expanded campaign" of cross-border Special Operations ground raids into Pakistan's perilous tribal region from Afghanistan.
The New York Times article dated Monday cited American officials in
Washington and Afghanistan and quoted one senior American officer as saying
"we've never been as close as we are now to getting the go-ahead to go across."
The report says there have been only a few American incursions from Afghanistan into Pakistan and that the warfare in Pakistan "has for the most part been carried out by armed drones operated by the CIA."
Coalition troops in Afghanistan have been issued revised guidelines for conducting night raids, an official from NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Friday.
The raids are considered effective tools to rout insurgents, but they have angered Afghan civilians and government officials.
The new directive is meant to underscore the need to coordinate raids with the Afghan government and inform civilians about the reasons for the operation, the ISAF official said.
Afghan and coalition forces have detained several people after a weekend suicide attack that killed six Americans, officials said Monday.
The attack took place Sunday in southern Afghanistan and all six NATO service members who were killed were Americans, a U.S. military source said. FULL POST
NATO's goal of ending combat operations in Afghanistan and leaving security in local hands by the end of 2014 is realistic, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday on his second visit to the nation in 2010.
"It's challenging, but it is achievable," Cameron said. "What I see is actually some grounds for cautious optimism."
Cameron cited the continued training of the Afghan National Army and the nation's police force, noting 500 police officers are coming out of a British-run police academy every eight weeks.
NATO's command in Afghanistan is "reviewing the circumstances" of the death three days ago of a former official in a southern Afghan province.
Haji Abraham, the former district chief of Gereshk District in Helmand province, was killed Monday.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force and Afghan troops were attempting to capture Taliban insurgents when "a joint security force" shot and killed Abraham, an ISAF statement said Thursday.
At the time, ISAF said, he "demonstrated hostile intent by brandishing a hand-grenade."
Incidents similar to this week's fatal shooting of six U.S. troops should not overshadow the progress American forces have made in turning security over to the Afghans, NATO's supreme commander says.
The six were shot Monday by a gunman wearing an Afghan Border Police uniform.
Last summer, two U.S. civilians and an Afghan soldier were reported shot to death by another Afghan soldier. A "rogue" Afghan policeman was blamed for the November 2009 shootings deaths of five British troops in Helmand province.
"Afghanistan is going to be a roller coaster," Adm. James Stavridis, NATO's supreme commander, said Monday. "We're going to see ups and downs. I see gradual, steady progress in Afghanistan, and I remain cautiously optimistic that we're going to succeed in Afghanistan. And I think one of the keys is transition. It is turning security over to the Afghans themselves."
NATO leaders stuck to an upbeat script at their Lisbon summit during the weekend of Nov. 19-21, announcing a formal timetable aimed at ending combat operations in Afghanistan and leaving security duties in local hands by the end of 2014 — provided, of course, that the Afghans are up to the task.
The target date pushes the endgame a couple of more years away, but it remains a goal, not a deadline, very much as Barack Obama's summer 2011 promise was. It does not mask the widening cracks in the alliance — specifically, between U.S. military officials, on the one hand, who insist that the current counterinsurgency campaign needs more time to have an impact, and European troop contributors, on the other, who are skeptical of the strategy and looking for a face-saving way out. The Afghans are themselves divided, debating whether the presence of foreign troops is driving the conflict or the only thing keeping the Kabul government from total collapse.
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.
CNN's Matthew Chance reports on Russia's increased involvement in Afghanistan.