By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2012 – Safe havens in Pakistan, corruption
and limited Afghan government capabilities are the greatest obstacles to
stability in Afghanistan, according to a Pentagon report delivered to
Congress and made public today.
The Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan
also states that the coalition surge accomplished its mission.
The enemy has lost capability, the report says. The number of attacks is
down and, while the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies can launch a few
flashy attacks, the terror group’s capabilities have waned.
Pakistan remains a problem, but there is some progress on that front, according to the report.
“The insurgency and al-Qaida continue to face U.S. counterterrorism
pressure within the safe havens,” the report says. “U.S. relations with
Pakistan have begun to improve following the re-opening of Pakistani
ground lines of communication, and there has been nascent improvement
with respect to cross-border cooperation between Pakistan and
In fact, the report continues, there has been some
cooperation on both sides of the border in coordinating counterterror
Most security metrics have improved, the report says.
It compares the first year of the surge – 2010 – with April through
September of this year, noting that enemy-initiated attacks have
declined by 12 percent.
Detonations of improvised explosive devices
declined 9 percent. The percentage of civilian casualties caused by NATO
forces declined 28 percent. Direct- fire attacks have dropped by 9
percent, and indirect-fire attacks are down by 24 percent.
However, civilian casualties caused by enemy attacks are up 11 percent, according to the Pentagon report.
The report’s findings point to progress with the Afghan national
security forces, which will take over security operations when U.S. and
coalition forces leave at the end of 2014.
“The ANSF has grown by
88,464 personnel, and has dramatically increased its capabilities,” the
report states. “The areas of the country influenced by the insurgents
and the ability of the insurgency to attack the population have been
The report to Congress highlights the
improvement in security of populated areas. “Security dramatically
improved in most of Afghanistan’s five most populous districts, with
[enemy-initiated attacks] in the first nine months of 2012 compared to
the same period in 2011 dropping 22 percent in Kabul, 62 percent in
Kandahar, 13 percent in Herat, 88 percent in Mazar-e-Sharif, and rising 2
percent in Kunduz,” the report says.
Insurgent attacks are
taking place away from these populated centers, the report says, noting
that the majority of Afghanistan’s 405 districts now experience very low
levels of enemy attacks. Eighty percent of attacks occur in districts
encompassing only 20 percent of the population, and nearly half of all
attacks in Afghanistan occur in just 17 districts that contain only 5
percent of the population, the report states.
The Taliban’s ability to attack Afghans is diminished particularly in Kandahar, the group’s operational and ideological base.
But overall, the report paints a picture of mixed progress toward
security and stability, with the area along the Afghanistan-Pakistan
border remaining a hot zone. “Pakistani-based sanctuary for insurgents,
such as the Haqqani Taliban Network in North Waziristan, as well as the
financial and operational support that insurgents receive from various
sources, keeps the security situation along the border with Pakistan in
Regional Command – East volatile,” the report says.
attacks in the region declined slightly, eastern Afghanistan accounted
for almost a third of all insurgent attacks throughout the country.
“The Taliban-led insurgency remains adaptive and determined, and
retains the capability to emplace substantial numbers of IEDs and to
conduct isolated high-profile attacks,” the report says. “The insurgency
also retains a significant regenerative capacity.”
As ISAF and
Afghan forces erode Taliban efforts, insurgents have increasingly
resorted to asymmetric tactics in an attempt to regain territory and
influence, including assassinations, kidnappings, intimidation tactics,
encouraging insider attacks and strategic messaging campaigns, the