The first areas to be transferred to Afghan security in July 2011 - the date set in President Obama's strategy - will probably be in the least contested areas, “some of which perhaps could happen now,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday. He was speaking at the second day of Congressional hearings on Obama's Afghanistan plan, which he outlined Tuesday night.
"I think something that is important to clarify is that this is going to be a gradual process of transition, and it will probably - the transition to Afghan security responsibility - will start presumably in the least contested areas, some of which perhaps could happen now," Gates said.
A Pentagon spokesman said some of the western and northern Afghanistan provinces have good security, but that the plan is to start transferring authority in summer 2011.
The day before, Gates had noted the administration will conduct "a thorough review" of the Afghan strategy in December 2010. "If it appears that the strategy's not working, and that we are not going to be able to transition in 2011, then we will take a hard look at the strategy itself," Gates said.
President Obama's plan for U.S. strategy in Afghanistan made headlines in the local media in Afghanistan - but it certainly wasn't the only headline. Take a look at some of the top stories and editorials in Afghan media on Tuesday, compiled from a U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report.
Hasht-e-Subh Daily editorial: Referring to the United States’ new strategy on Afghanistan, the editorial suggests that President Obama should also include in that strategy the entire Afghan people, and not just a handful of influential people and powerful warlords as President Karzai does.
Weesa Daily editorial: Considering the fact that international troops’ military operations have brought considerable civilian casualties, it is expected that the public will, on the basis of their national feelings, now give more of their support to the Afghan National Army, just in case the international troops start withdrawing. FULL POST
Macedonian-born Alexander the Great led his armies through Persia and Afghanistan around 330 B.C. While Greek rule continued for the next two centuries, civil unrest and revolts were common. And in 1273, explorer Marco Polo crossed northern Afghanistan on his voyage from Italy to China. Soon, the nation became a critical, if dangerous, stop on the "Silk Route," an ancient trade route that linked Rome and China.
As the United States and other countries plan to send more troops to Afghanistan, take a look at some of the struggles in the history of this ancient land, where war and economic upheaval are nothing new.
Explore the different historic events that have made Afghanistan a crossroads of history.
This year, the American Thanksgiving holiday falls on the same evening as the Muslim Eid-ul-Adha. The festive occassion celebrates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for his God. In Kabul, a man visits the market in preparation for the days of prayers, visits with family and friends and meals with special dishes, including the traditional slaughter of a sheep or goat.