Taliban momentum reversed in Afghanistan
15 December 2010, 22:19
Brussels - Nato's top military official said on Wednesday that 2010 was a critical year in the war in Afghanistan because the alliance has started to consolidate its control over some of the country's most violent regions.
Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola's optimistic statement is likely to closely reflect the conclusions of President Barack Obama's Afghanistan war review, due to be made public on Thursday.
"Certainly, the momentum which the Taliban have been perceived as having has been reversed, considerably reversed in some areas," Di Paola said.
At last month's summit in Portugal, Nato leaders endorsed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's proposal that Afghanistan take lead responsibility for security by the end of 2014. That would begin next year with an unspecified but small number of areas transferred to Afghan control.
The plan would allow Nato members to begin reducing their troop contingent of about 140 000, but the full timeline has yet to be determined. Obama has said he will start pulling out some of the approximately 100 000 US troops there next July, but US officials have said the number going home is likely to be small.
Afghan army and police are scheduled to grow to more than 300 000 troops over the next two years. They face an estimated 25 000 - 30 000 Taliban guerrillas and other rebels.
"This year has been the critical year for Afghanistan ... the year which has seen progress starting to consolidate," Di Paola told reporters. "The decision to start the transition (to Afghan forces) in some parts of the country early next year is clear evidence of progress."