Security incidents in Afghanistan rise despite troop surge: Pentagon

14:41, April 30, 2011      

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Security incidents in Afghanistan have risen since last fall despite U.S.-led troop surge, and security gains in the country remain fragile and reversible, the Pentagon said Friday.

The increase in violence was due in part to the surge of foreign troops, stepped-up military actions against insurgent safe havens, and mild winter weather, the Pentagon said in a semi-annual report sent to Congress.

The report covered the period from Oct. 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. It was released a day after President Barack Obama reshuffled both U.S. military and diplomatic leadership in Afghanistan.

Obama on Thursday nominated John Allen, Deputy Commander of U.S. Central Command, to be the next Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan to succeed David Petraeus. Veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker was named to replace Karl Eikenberry as the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

Despite facing challenges, the NATO-led force and Afghan troops have made "tangible progress, arresting the insurgents' momentum in much of the country and reversing it in a number of important areas," the report said.

The report warned of more fighting and even setbacks ahead.

"The months ahead will see setbacks as well as successes," it said. "There will be difficult fighting and tough losses as the enemy tries to regain momentum and key areas lost in the past six months."

Several senior military commanders have voiced the same concern.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the U.S. military is bracing for a tough year in Afghanistan with potentially significant losses.

"We're going to have a very tough year this year. I've been very straight with the American people on that," Mullen said during a recent visit to Afghanistan. "I think our losses, which were significant last year, will be significant this year as well."

The report came as the Afghanistan war has entered a crucial stage. The Obama administration planned to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July, with the goal of handing lead security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

But there's still not an agreement on the pace of troop drawdown, and many express concern that a quick withdrawal might undermine the security gains that foreign troops already achieved there.

Source: Xinhua
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