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Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan

November 2010


Report to Congress
In accordance with section 1230 of the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
(Public Law 110-181), as amended


Executive Summary

This report to Congress is submitted consistent with section 1230 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181), as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84). It includes a description of the comprehensive strategy of the United States for security and stability in Afghanistan. This report is the fourth in a series of reports required every 180 days through fiscal year 2010 and has been prepared in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Director of National Intelligence, the Attorney General, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and the Secretary of Agriculture. This assessment complements other reports and information about Afghanistan provided to the Congress; however, it is not intended as a single source of all information about the combined efforts or the future strategy of the United States, its Coalition Partners, or Afghanistan. The information contained in this report is current as of September 30, 2010.

NOTE: This is a historical document that covers progress made in Afghanistan from April 1, 2010 to September 30, 2010. The next report will include an analysis of progress toward security and stability from October 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011.

Progress across the country remains uneven, with modest gains in security, governance, and development in operational priority areas. The deliberate application of our strategy is beginning to have cumulative effects and security is slowly beginning to expand. Although significant challenges exist, some signs of progress are evident. Areas of security in Kabul and the surrounding districts have allowed for improvements in development and governance. Progress is also visible in areas where Coalition forces have been on the ground for more than six months, such as Central Helmand Province. Socio-economic development throughout the country is slowly improving, as the Afghan Government shows initial signs of improving essential service delivery, although it is limited still by the security environment in some areas. Agricultural development and productivity has also improved. Overall governance and development progress continues to lag security gains. Governance capacity and economic development are long-term efforts that will require sustained support from the international community.

Key strategic events during this period included the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Dialogue in May, the National Consultative Peace Jirga in June, the Kabul Conference in July, and the Afghan Parliamentary elections in September. This period also saw the arrival of U.S. uplift forces in theater, along with more than three-fourths of the pledged North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) uplift forces and remarkable growth of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by about one third since November 2009. This period included several important political developments including President Hamid Karzai’s approval of the Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP), a Presidential decree establishing the Afghan Local Police (ALP), the signing of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, and the establishment of the Joint Afghan-NATO Inteqal (“transition”) Board (JANIB).

The increase in violence during this period was concurrent with the arrival of Coalition personnel, the dramatically accelerated pace of operations, and the spike of violence often seen on election day. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is seeing some early indications that comprehensive counterinsurgency operations are having localized positive effects and are producing initial signs of progress. Indications of local resistance to insurgents continue to emerge alongside positive indications, such as newly opened schools and police stations.

ISAF and ANSF forces gradually are pushing insurgents to the edges of secured population areas, in a number of important locations. The Afghan Government and ISAF continue to face a resilient enemy that exploits governance gaps and continues to fight to retain long-standing sanctuaries where the insurgency historically has had strong roots. Yet, the insurgent-generated violence remains largely localized and does not threaten all of Afghanistan: 45 percent of all violence and two-thirds of all improvised explosive device (IED) activity take place in the south.1

After taking command as Commander ISAF (COMISAF) and Commander U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (COMUSFOR-A) on July 4, 2010, General Petraeus issued a revised Tactical Directive. This directive provides guidance and intent for the employment of force. In addition, General Petraeus issued refined counterinsurgency (COIN) guidance to reinforce the principles of conducting COIN operations in Afghanistan, and new COIN contracting guidance to reinforce that contracting is “commanders’ business” and that commanders must understand the effects of contract spending.

The ISAF operational main effort is focused on protecting the most threatened population in the heart of the Taliban-led insurgency in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces. The split of Regional Command-South (RC-S) and Regional Command-Southwest (RC-SW) on June 14, 2010 has allowed for more effective and streamlined command and control and improved ANSF partnering in both provinces. Comprehensive civil-military efforts in RC-S and RC-SW are making slow but steady progress. Initial signs of this progress are evident especially in Central Helmand, where ISAF and ANSF have been conducting counterinsurgency operations for over a year. Despite the enemy’s continued efforts to counter coalition and ANSF actions to expand security in the south, slow and incremental gains are being achieved. Six months ago, Marjah was an insurgent command-and-control center, a base for IED assembling, and a nexus for illegal narcotics industry activities. Now the city is controlled by the Afghan Government. Signs of progress in Marjah include voter registration, increased activity in local marketplaces, and the reopening of schools that were closed for several years.

Combined ISAF and ANSF Forces in Regional Command-Capital (RC-C) continued to sustain a relatively secure environment for the people of Kabul and the surrounding districts, where approximately one-sixth of all Afghans live. Combined Afghan security forces in Kabul performed notably well in the planning and the execution of security for the Peace Jirga and the Kabul Conference, as well as during Parliamentary elections. Indeed, the transition of key security functions and responsibilities already occurring in RC-C is similar to that which is envisioned to occur across the country in the coming years. In the coming months, ISAF will focus on expanding security from Kabul into surrounding provinces, particularly in Regional Command-East (RC-E).

ISAF operations in RC-E have continued to apply pressure and disrupt the leadership of the Haqqani and Taliban Networks. Combined forces in RC-E are securing critical lines of communication and infrastructure that supports the commerce to and from Pakistan. Efforts in RC-E will further increase the pressure on some of Afghanistan’s most lethal enemy networks, expand population security from Kabul to key population centers in Wardak and Logar, neutralize the Haqqani Network’s footholds and disrupt its access to Kabul, and secure the main economic border crossing point at Torkham.

Despite recent high-profile events, the insurgency has failed to gain significant footholds in Regional Command-North (RC-N) and Regional Command-West (RC-W). ISAF and ANSF efforts have benefitted from expanded partnering and remain focused on improving security in key terrain districts and ensuring gradually improving freedom of movement along Highway 1.

The ANSF has, at times, been considered one of the greatest risk areas of the ISAF strategy. As of the end of this reporting period, ANSF growth and development are among Afghanistan’s most promising areas of progress, though numerous challenges persist. In July 2010, the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) both met their growth goal of 134,000 and 109,000 personnel, respectively, three months before the target date of October 31. The ANA end strength for July was 134,028 personnel, and the ANP end strength was 115,525 personnel. If the ANA and ANP continue to grow at a similar pace, which will be challenging, they will also meet their October 2011 goals of 171,600 and 134,000 personnel, respectively. Although the growth during this reporting period is significant, improving the quality of the force remains a serious challenge, in particular in the area of leadership development. Also, given the expanded requirements described in the Combined Joint Statement of Requirements version 10 (CJSOR v.10), released on September 1, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) will face a shortfall of ANSF trainers and mentors that will grow more acute through the fall and into next year, if troop contributions do not meet the growing need for training. If not adequately addressed, this shortfall poses significant strategic risk and threatens to delay the upcoming transition process.

Leader shortfalls in the officer and non-commissioned officer (NCO) Corps of the ANA will remain as the force grows, and low literacy rates and lack of technical expertise present challenges to force development. Mandatory literacy training and the establishment of branch specialty schools will begin to alleviate some of this challenge, and aggressive partnering is starting to address development deficits. Significant shortfalls in specialist instructor pledges, if persistent past this year’s force generation process, will delay transition of institutional capacity. The ANP reached its 2010 growth objective of 109,000 three months early, but the severe attrition rate in Afghan National Civil Order Policy (ANCOP) puts the 2011 growth goal of 134,000 at risk as 90 percent of programmed growth this coming year is in the ANCOP.

In August, President Karzai authorized the establishment of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) program. ALP is a temporary, village-focused program that complements counterinsurgency efforts by targeting select areas with limited or no ANSF presence to shape security conditions and allow for improved governance and development. In September, the Afghan Government approved ALP at 68 sites and established the first eight ALP sites. We anticipate the establishment of most of the remaining ALP sites by the end of 2010.

As President Karzai has forthrightly recognized, corruption continues to fuel the insurgency in various areas. ISAF, in coordination with the international community and the Afghan Government, established the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force (CJIATF)-Shafafiyat (“Transparency”) to develop a common understanding of corruption, to support Afghan-led anti-corruption efforts, and to integrate ISAF anti-corruption activities with those of key partners. CJIATF-Shafafiyat achieved initial operational capability in late August, with full operational capability expected in October 2010.

Embassy-Kabul, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and ISAF, together with the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), continue to work with the Afghan Government to help improve governance and accelerate development. The Karzai Administration has improved its stance against corruption by prosecuting several high-profile senior officials. However, progress remains uneven and incremental. The Afghan Government also has improved inter-ministerial coordination, but faces several challenges and has yet to establish unified control over border control and customs – one of the primary sources of government revenue. The Kabul Bank episode continues to foster uncertainty in the financial sector and poses potential threats to investment and economic growth.


1 Notably, nearly 90 percent of all IED activity countrywide takes place in the south, southwest, and east, leaving the north and west with relatively low levels of violence.


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