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.
Even with serious questions about President Hamid Karzai's commitment to the military strategy in Afghanistan, NATO members plan to announce an enduring presence there beyond 2014, the new target date for handing off security control to the Afghans.
At its weekend summit, NATO members will tout a three-year plan to
transfer security responsibilities by 2014 to the Afghans, beginning early next
year on a phased, conditions-based timeline, NATO officials told CNN.
NATO members plan to offer a message of reassurance to Afghanistan that
the alliance will remain engaged after security control is transferred to
Afghan forces. NATO will endorse an "enduring partnership" with Afghanistan,
specifically focused on developing Afghan security forces and police, officials
The Obama administration announced a $2 billion,
multiyear security assistance package Friday to help Pakistan fight extremists
taking refuge in safe havens along its border with Afghanistan.
The five-year package would pay for military hardware and equipment
Pakistan needs for the counterinsurgency fight, Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said. It is subject to congressional approval, and complements the $7.5
billion in civilian projects approved by Congress last year.
WASHINGTON - As the U.S. military and its NATO allies intensify their campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Obama administration also is revamping its messaging in the region with a robust strategic communications strategy employing new technologies to fight extremism.
For years the Taliban and al Qaeda owned the airwaves with strong anti-American propaganda, which was met with a weak U.S. effort to counter it.
"We found that Afghans in the most-troubled, insurgent-held areas lived in information wastelands dominated by militant propaganda," the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said last week. "We are fighting back with a revamped strategy that puts the people and their ability to communicate at the forefront of our effort."
The new strategy, Holbrooke's advisers say, attempts to control the "narrative," rather than respond to the extremist version of events, as part of a new approach to empower Afghans and Pakistanis with 21st century media technologies.
In Afghanistan, that means building capacity for communications, investing in infrastructure - including construction of radio stations and setting up cell phone and television towers. FULL POST
The Taliban's top military leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, has been captured, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials told CNN. Baradar has been a close associate of Osama bin Laden and is seen as the number two figure in the Afghan Taliban.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Baradar and his capture:
Who is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar?
Is it significant that Baradar was caught in Karachi, Pakistan?
What does his capture mean for the current Operation Moshtarak?
Will Baradar's capture help find Osama bin Laden?
WASHINGTON - U.S., British and Afghan officials met with tribal elders in the southern Afghanistan city of Marjah Monday to assure them the international community and Afghan government are committed to stabilizing and developing the area, now the scene of a major NATO operation against the Taliban.
At the tribal meetings known as "shuras," the message was "we are still in the early days of the military operations but we are here and we are here to stay," Rory Donohoe, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) representative in Helmand province told CNN in a phone interview, as he sat 25 kilometers from the battlefield. FULL POST
Update: 1:37 p.m. ET: At the conclusion of the one-day meeting, participants in the talks issued a communique expressing their approval of the plan that Afghan President Hamid Karzai introduced earlier in the day. Major international donors were asked to pledge money for the effort, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced after the meeting that Japan has offered $50 million toward the plan. She said the U.S. military in Afghanistan also had funds at its disposal to use to support the program.
London, England - Afghan President Hamid Karzai pitched a plan for integrating Taliban fighters into mainstream Afghan society Thursday, as world powers gathered to find ways to strengthen the Afghan government in the face of a persistent Taliban and al Qaeda insurgency.
"We must reach out to all our countrymen, especially our disenchanted brothers who are not part of al Qaeda or other terrorist networks," Karzai told the participants at the London Conference on Afghanistan - a meeting of more than 60 countries and organizations looking for ways to steer the country away from the grasp of militants.
A central focus of the summit is a $500 million pay-for-peace proposal to bring Taliban fighters into the civilian fold if they promise to renounce violence. The money would create jobs and housing in an effort to moderate the Taliban fighters, helping them return to civilian life. Major international donors are expected to pledge money for the effort.
Karzai also said he would establish a national council for peace reconciliation and integration, followed by a "peace jirga" - a traditional gathering of Afghan tribal leaders - and said he hoped Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah would play a "prominent role."
Update: December 4, 7:32 a.m. ET: Non-U.S. nations operating under the NATO command in Afghanistan have promised to send 7,000 more troops to Afghanistan, NATO's secretary-general said Friday.
BRUSSELS, Belgium – Even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss fresh troop contributions for Afghanistan, NATO allies are already discussing how to hand the country back to Afghanistan.
In the wake of President Obama's announcement that the U.S. will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, NATO spokesman James Appathurai says the alliance already has commitments from other members for at least 5,000 troops. Other officials from NATO and ISAF put the figure closer to 7,000 based on promises made in private, but not yet announced. FULL POST