Two National Intelligence Estimates (NYT) present a pessimistic view of the war in Afghanistan, just a day before the Obama administration's review of U.S. war strategy. The documents contradict much of the U.S. military's recent optimism and suggest a limited chance for U.S. success (LAT) unless Pakistan ends tacit support for the Afghan Taliban in border sanctuaries. Ranking military commanders dispute the reports' findings, claiming much of the intelligence is obsolete and unrepresentative of the recent months' progress from "intensive operations with the full complement of surge forces." In addition, officials argue the reports were written remotely by Washington analysts with limited grasp of on-the-ground dynamics.
Most experts expect the forthcoming policy review to present sufficient progress (Guardian) to allow a modest U.S. reduction of forces. White House officials indicate the review will describe progress in breaking Taliban momentum and destroying al-Qaeda leadership, as well as improved cooperation with Pakistan. After raising troop levels to one hundred thousand last year, the administration hopes to begin a staged withdrawal in July 2011 and hand over the majority of control by 2014.
This opinion piece from Politico details several points of consensus from the policy community on the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
Reuters' White House blogger Ross Colvin suggests President Obama needs good news in Afghanistan in order to justify an end to the U.S. combat mission.
This CFR Task Force Report examines the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This Pakistan Crisis Guide from CFR offers a range of expert perspectives on Pakistan's history and future prospects.