Only one of the Afghan National Army's 23 brigades is capable of operating without U.S. or NATO military assistance, the New York Times reported, following the release Monday of a Pentagon report to Congress. The Department of Defense Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan tells of "mixed progress" in a war now in its 12th year since the United States and NATO forces invaded the land known as the "graveyard of empires" soon after the al Qaeda September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
The coalition forces quickly toppled the Taliban regime in Kabul and have since driven al Qaeda out of the country. By 2010, only 50 to 100 members of the terrorist organization remained in the country, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said at the time, with many finding refuge in neighboring Pakistan and other countries in the region. The ongoing battle with Taliban and other insurgents, however, has been plagued by rebel infiltration of Afghan military and police units and attacks on U.S. and NATO personnel from within the Afghan ranks. More than 37"insider attacks" on the International Security Assistance Force have taken place so far in 2012, the report said, compared to just to in 2007.
The report, covering the six-month period of April through September of this year, says Taliban strength is declining, especially in the province of Kandahar, the organization's operational base. Insurgent attacks are increasingly taking place away from these populated centers, the report finds, with nearly half of all attacks occurring in 17 districts that contain just 5 percent of the country's population. Yet the "Taliban-led insurgency remains adaptive and determined," the report notes, "and retains the capability to emplace substantial numbers of IEDs [incendiary explosive devices] and to conduct isolated high-profile attacks." The insurgents have increasingly resorted to "asymmetric tactics," including assassinations and kidnappings in their effort to regain territory and influence the report says.
Click here to read the entire article.
Photo of Afghan National Army soldiers: AP Images