The July 2013 “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” a biannual report to Congress in accordance with Section 1230 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law
110-181) as amended; section 1221 of the NDAA for FY 2012 (Public Law 112-81); and sections 1212, 1217, 1223, and 1531(d) of the NDAA for FY 2013 (Public Law 112-239), as amended, was provided today to Congress.
It is posted at http://www.defense.gov/pubs/Section_1230_Report_July_2013.pdf.
I have copied the first several pages of the "Executive Summary" below. The entire Report is 192 pages long.
Executive SummaryThe conflict in Afghanistan has shifted into a fundamentally new phase. For the past 11 years, the United States and our coalition partners have led the fight against the Taliban, but now Afghan forces are conducting almost all combat operations. The progress made by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)-led surge over the past three years has put the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) firmly in control of all of Afghanistan’s major cities and 34 provincial capitals and driven the insurgency into the countryside. ISAF’s primary focus has largely transitioned from directly fighting the insurgency to training, advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in their efforts to hold and build upon these gains, enabling a U.S. force reduction of roughly 34,000 personnel — half the current force in Afghanistan—by February 2014.
As agreed by President Obama and President Karzai at their January 2013 meeting in Washington, D.C., and in line with commitments made at the Lisbon and Chicago NATO summits, "Milestone 2013" was announced on June 18, 2013, marking ISAF's transition to its new role. The ANSF has grown to approximately 96 percent of its authorized end-strength
of 352,000 personnel and is conducting almost all operations independently. As a result, ISAF casualties are lower than they have been since 2008. The majority of ISAF bases has been transferred to the ANSF or closed (although most large ISAF bases remain), and construction of most ANSF bases is complete. Afghanistan’s populated areas are increasingly secure; the ANSF has successfully maintained security gains in areas that have transitioned to Afghan lead responsibility. To contend with the continuing Taliban threat, particularly in rural areas, the ANSF will require training and key combat support from ISAF, including in extremis close airsupport, through the end of 2014. Challenges with the economy and governance will continue to foster uncertainty about the longterm prospects for stability. Afghanistan has made some progress over the past decade, as reflected in the recently released United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index, which cited Afghanistan as making the largest percentage gain in the world over the last 10 years. Moreover, the economy grew 12 percent in 2012, and the Afghan government is increasingly able to execute parts of its budget and deliver very basic goods and services. Nonetheless, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world and will remain heavily dependent on outside aid. The government has yet to reduce corruption or extend governance to many rural areas effectively. Given the expected decline in international
assistance, Afghanistan will need to embrace new sources of future economic growth and government revenue.This report is submitted consistent with section 1230 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181), asamended. It includes a description of the comprehensive strategy of the United States for security and stability in Afghanistan This report is the eleventh in a series of reports required every 180 days through fiscal year 2014 and has been prepared in coordination with the Secretary of State,the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of National Intelligence, the Attorney General, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Agriculture. This assessment complements other reports and information about Afghanistan provided to Congress; however, it is not intended as a single source of all information about the combined efforts or the future strategy of the United States, its coalition partners, or Afghanistan. The information contained in this report is valid as of March 31, 2013. This is a historical document that covers progress in Afghanistan from October 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013 although some more recent updates of key events are included. The next report will include an analysis of progress toward security and stability from April 1, 2013, to September 30, 2013. The security situation also remains challenging: Afghanistan continues to face a resilient insurgency that uses sanctuaries in Pakistan to attempt to regain lost ground and influence through continued high-profile attacks and assassinations. Although ANSF capabilities have greatly increased over the past two years, it has yet to demonstrate the ability to operate independently on a nationwide scale. Therefore, the Afghan government will require continued assistance from ISAF and the international community over the next year and a half to help enable it to address these challenges and improve long-term prospects for stability. While relations between Afghanistan and the U.S. have at times been turbulent during this period, negotiations have made progress on key issues. Assessing whether the gains to date will be sustainable will be difficult to do until the exact size and structure of the post-2014 US and NATO presence is determined. Another key factor in this assessment will be whether a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the U.S. and Afghanistan is reached.
ANSF in the Lead
ISAF’s main effort is to facilitate the conditions for the ANSF to assume full security responsibility for Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Of all lines of effort, this showed the most progress during the reporting period, culminating in the Milestone 2013 ceremony that formally marked the ANSF's assumption of operational lead for the 2013 fighting season. The ANSF has grown in size and capability in accordance with ISAF’s development plan. Initial force generation and training of the ANSF’s basic infantry and police force structure by ISAF is largely complete and has largely transitioned to the Ministries of Defense and Interior, which now conducts 85 percent of ANSF training. The Afghan National Army (ANA) Command andControl (C2) system has advanced to an adequately resilient level and is capable of providing the minimal essential support required for the transition to Afghan lead in plans and operations by 2014. The ANSF will, however, need continued assistance and combat support through the end of the ISAF mandate in December 2014; beyond then it will still require substantial training,
Insurgent Narrative UnderminedThe insurgency failed to achieve its campaign objectives during the reporting period and its ability to strike at major population centers is increasingly under pressure. Taliban territorial influence and control decreased in 2012 and continued to do so during the reporting period. The enemy is now less capable, less popular and less of an existential threat to the Afghan government than in 2011. Nonetheless, insurgents maintained influence in many rural areas that serve as platforms to attack urban areas and were able to carry out attacks with roughly the same frequency as in 2012, although these attacks tended to be in less populated areas. The insurgency can also use its sanctuaries in Pakistan to prevent its decisive defeat in the near term. But the ANSF's growing capability has enabled it to successfully challenge the insurgency across Afghanistan and hold the security gains made in the past two years. During the reporting period, sustained counterterrorism operations eliminated dozens of al Qaeda
(AQ) facilitators and exerted pressure on AQ personnel, restricting their movement to isolated areas of northeastern Afghanistan. ISAF estimates that the number of AQ fighters in Afghanistan remains very low, but AQs relationship with local Afghan Taliban remains intact. Insurgent groups' main propaganda theme for the past 11 years has been that they are fighting a foreign occupation. As the ANSF takes over almost all operations and coalition forces recede from combat and draw down, this message increasingly lacks credibility. This is particularly the case because insurgent actions continue to cause the vast majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, mostly as a result of insurgents’ indiscriminate emplacement of IEDs. As the insurgency finds itself increasingly fighting Afghans and as even more of the victims of insurgent attacks are fellow Afghans —insurgents’ propaganda will become even more detached from reality. At the same time, a credible U.S. enduring presence as part of NATO’s RESOLUTE SUPPORT mission will contradict the insurgent message of abandonment. Transition is On TrackThe transition process is on track for completion by the end of 2014, with four of five tranches of provincial districts fully in transition, and the fifth tranche entering transition this summer. President Karzai announced tranche four on December 31, 2012, and all districts in this tranche began transition by March 2013. With tranche four now underway, approximately 87 percent of the Afghan population is living in areas where transition has occurred or is occurring and 23 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces are wholly in transition. Tranche four moved Afghans into the lead for security in important population centers, economically significant districts and large areas in the east and center of the country. Tranche five was announced this spring and will be implemented in late summer; it will include all remaining districts in Afghanistan, most of which are along the border with Pakistan. Areas that enter transition undergo several stages of progress that gradually increase Afghan control. Areas that reach the final stage of transition remain at that stage until December 2014 when all provinces and districts in Afghanistan will graduate from transition, regardless of what stage they have achieved. As U.S. and coalition forces draw down and re-posture, the ANSF is taking the lead in transitioned areas and helping to expand Afghan government influence, most notably in Regional Command North (RC-N), where ISAF forces have substantially reduced their coverage. Transition is a dynamic and uneven process, with some areas progressing quickly and others moving slowly or even regressing. Notably, some areas of Badakshan Province saw increased insurgent attacks with the ANSF taking significant casualties, indicating that ISAF will continue to have to assess the pace and scope of transition to prevent premature withdrawal and to learn appropriate lessons to make the transition process more effective. Kabul remains the most densely populated and secure area in the country under the ANSF’s security lead despite consistent insurgent attempts to conduct attacks there. Poor coordination between the ANA and Afghan Uniform Police (AUP) is a major challenge in transitioned areas. Attacks along access routes to major population centers as well as government ineffectiveness also hamper transition. Governance and development continue to be inadequate in many transitioning areas and will require continued substantial levels of assistance from the international community well into the 2015-2024 "Decade of Transformation."