By Karen DeYoung Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
A new Defense Department report on Afghanistan described progress in the war as “uneven” and painted a more sobering picture than public comments made recently by President Obama and U.S. military officials.
The report, mandated by Congress for delivery every six months, spoke of “modest gains in security, governance and development in operational priority areas.” But the advances cited appeared to be outweighed by what the report’s authors called “numerous challenges.”
The period covered by the assessment ended Sept. 30, and a defense official authorized to brief reporters on the condition of anonymity said there had been “a lot of encouraging signs over the past six to seven weeks.”
The report came as the Pentagon and other government departments and agencies have provided the White House with internal war assessments that will form the basis of a strategic review to be completed by mid-December. An interagency group is now collating the various “inputs” for consideration next week by the National Security Council’s deputies committee, a senior defense official said.
That committee will report overall findings to national security principals and Obama, who will determine whether to make any changes in the strategy he outlined a year ago. The strategy included deployment of an additional 30,000 troops, for a total U.S. force of about 100,000, and a tripling, to more than 1,000, of U.S. civilian officials.
“We’re looking at the path and pace of progress,” the senior official said. “How is the strategy being implemented? Where are we achieving the desired effects, and where we are not, why not? What adjustments can be made?”
As far as the Pentagon is concerned, the official said, “we are seeing the shift of momentum that we aimed for” against Taliban forces. “It’s not complete, and there are still challenges.” But “the concept is being proven in key areas.” Other officials have said they do not anticipate significant changes in the strategy.