Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy [December 29, 2010]   [open pdf - 1MB]

"Following two high-level policy reviews on Afghanistan in 2009, and another completed in December 2010, the Obama Administration asserts that it is pursuing a well resourced and integrated military-civilian strategy intended to pave the way for a gradual transition to Afghan security leadership to begin in July 2011 and be completed by the end of 2014. [...] The December 2010 review took into account the effect of the addition of U.S. combat troops to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, intended to create security conditions to expand Afghan governance and economic development. A total of 51,000 additional U.S. forces were authorized by the two reviews, which has brought U.S. troop levels to about 98,000 as of September 4, 2010, with partner forces holding at about 41,000. [...] As reflected in the overview of the Administration review, released December 16, 2010, the top U.S./NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organzation] commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, and his associates believe that insurgent momentum has been blunted, although gains remain 'fragile and reversible.' [...] Many assess that President Hamid Karzai's refusal to forcefully confront governmental corruption has caused a loss of Afghan support for his government, while others note that strong economic growth and economic development are additional causes for optimism. In order to try to achieve a strategic breakthrough that might force key insurgent leaders to negotiate a early political settlement, General Petraeus is attempting to accelerate local security solutions and experiments similar to those he pursued earlier in Iraq, and to step up the use of air strikes and special forces operations against Taliban commanders. In order to take advantage of an apparent new willingness by some insurgent commanders to negotiate, Karzai has named a broad-based 70-member High Peace Council to oversee negotiations. However, there are major concerns among Afghanistan's minorities and among its women that reconciliation could lead to compromises that erode the freedoms Afghans have enjoyed since 2001."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL30588
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