Pentagon Report Sees Security Progress in Afghanistan

The Pentagon’s latest progress report on the situation in Afghanistan has found the number of violent attacks is down, but the biggest threat to security now comes from insurgent safe havens located in Pakistan.

The “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan” looked at the security situation in Afghanistan over the past six months.

A senior defense official noted that the report installment was the first since they began to be issued in 2008 that showed substantial progress in security levels in Afghanistan.   

The report also is the first not to use the standard term that progress is “fragile and reversible.”  The official said it was a deliberate omission because of the security progress in Afghanistan.  

According to the report, “The most significant development during this reporting period is the reduction in year-over-year violence.  After five consecutive years where enemy-initiated attacks and overall violence increased sharply each year (example, up 88 percent in 2010 over 2009), such attacks began to decrease in May 2011 compared to the previous year and continue to decline.”   

The report cited security gains in Afghanistan over the past six months as laying a “firm foundation” for a transition from international to Afghan security by the end of 2014.

The report said the greatest threat to that security progress comes from outside the country - the safe havens across the border in Pakistan.

“Safe havens in Pakistan have become the most important external factor sustaining the insurgency, and continue to present the most significant risk to ISAF’s campaign” said the report, referring to the U.S.-allied International Security Assistance Force.

The report highlights how battlefield setbacks have forced the Taliban to relocate infrastructure from inside Afghanistan to Pakistan.  For example, the town of Chaman in the Pakistani  province of Baluchistan is said to have become the focal point of the Taliban’s roadside-bomb-making facilities.  

Increasingly, insurgents are turning to significant attacks inside Afghanistan, as highlighted by recent attacks in Kabul that the report blamed on the Haqqani Network.  The report said the assassinations and attacks “while reflecting the weakness of the Taliban in Afghanistan, have the potential to have a significant political effect in Afghanistan, as well as coalition countries.”

Much of the security progress has taken place in southern Afghanistan, where the surge allowed troops to enter Taliban strongholds for the first time.

NATO’s emphasis in the coming year will now be on eastern Afghanistan, where the report describes the security as “tenuous.”

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