U.S. commander claims progress, admits danger in Afghanistan

08:35, March 16, 2011      

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Commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus on Tuesday presented Congress with an optimistic assessment of progress in the Afghanistan war, but admitted dangers the military faces before the scheduled beginning of drawdown in July.

The Taliban's momentum has been reversed in most areas of Afghanistan, but the progress achieved there is fragile and reversible, Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee in his first testimony since he was confirmed by the Senate to replace Stanley McChrystal last June.

He said the NATO forces have mounted precise, intelligence- driven operations to capture or kill militant leaders.

"In a typical 90-day period, in fact, precision operations by U. S. special mission units and their Afghan partners alone kill or capture some 360 targeted insurgent leaders," Petraeus said, noting combined operations have cleared the Taliban from important safe havens, and the forces are holding these areas, allowing governance and development to take root.

He also said safe havens in Pakistan also are receiving attention, as the alliance has troops in place to interdict these corridors, as well as cooperate with Pakistani forces across the border to trap Taliban forces.

Petraeus admitted much dangerous work remains ahead for coalition and Afghan government forces in the country, but " achievements in 2010 and early 2011 have enabled the joint Afghan- NATO transition board to recommend initiation this spring of transition to Afghan lead in several provinces."

The progress also will factor into his recommendations in drawing down the number of U.S. forces in the country, now at around 100,000. It also put the NATO-led effort on the path to turn over security responsibility for the country to Afghan forces by 2014.

Petraeus is in Washington to brief top U.S. government officials and the Congress on the progress of the Afghanistan war, now in its tenth year. President Barack Obama ordered the deployment of 30,000 additional forces to Afghanistan in late 2009. His plan involves setting July 2011 as the beginning of withdrawal.

Petraeus met with Obama on Monday to discuss the situation on the ground leading to the drawdown. He is to testify in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua

 
 
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