UPDATE ON AFGHANISTAN

Thursday March 17, 2005

Afghanistan is making good political progress:

- Women are playing a greater role in the country's political and economic life.
- The Afghan government has established good working relationships with its neighbors, especially Pakistan.

The Afghan army is a unifying force for the country:

- Units are composed of all ethnic groups from around the country.
- Twenty-two thousand soldiers in the Afghan National Army have been trained and deployed.
- Increased economic activity in Afghanistan is a sign of the country's growing security and stability.

NATO is playing an important and growing part in stability operations in Afghanistan:

- NATO commands the International Security Assistance Force in and around Kabul. That force is expanding to the western portion of the country.
- NATO will establish four additional provincial reconstruction teams in western Afghanistan.

Opium cultivation remains a huge problem:
- Leaders are pleased with the level of cooperation they have received to confront the drug problem.
- Recently, Afghan forces seized more than 2,000 pounds of heroin in an operation near Jalalabad.

The search for Osama bin Laden continues. Operations in Iraq have not detracted from this priority.

The number of violent contacts between Coalition forces and enemy fighters in Afghanistan is declining:

- Insurgent activity has decreased, and the number of former Taliban fighters willing to be part of the solution instead of the problem has increased.
- Afghan security forces are operating much more freely in areas that used to be very violent.
- Nongovernmental and international aid organizations are much more willing to go into many areas in Afghanistan.

Source: DOD

NEWS ABOUT THE ARMY

  • Harvey visits troops, no timetable for drawdown (ESS | EB)
  • Officials warn of big costs and hurdles in FCS (NYT | EB)
  • McCain, auditors question Army FCS (WP | EB)
  • A dedication to training Iraqi troops (PI | EB)
  • Army '05 recruiting goals unlikely to be met (LAT | EB)

WAR ON TERROR NEWS

  • Iraq National Assembly starts off quietly (WP | EB)
  • U.S., Britain see assurance by Italy (NYT | EB)
  • Coalition buoyed by Iraqi people's courage, Bush says (AFIS)
  • "Coalition is working to democratize Iraq" Opinion by Sec. Rumsfeld (TH/EB)
  • Reported abuse declined after Abu Ghraib (WP | EB)
  • Data reveals 108 died in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan (PI | EB)
  • Long-term U.S. bases in Afghanistan a possibility (BS | EB)
  • Vitality, optimism characterize Afghanistan today (AFIS)
  • Four sentenced to death for bomb attack in Afghanistan (NYT/EB)
  • Saudis fear infiltration by Iraq militants (BS | EB)

OF INTEREST

  • Anthrax alarm exposes response flaws (WP | EB)
  • Wolfowitz nominated for World Bank president (NYT | EB)
  • Successor talk for deputy SecDef fills Pentagon (LAT | EB)
  • House approves emergency war spending bill (WP | EB)
  • Iran offers 'guarantees' to Europe on nuclear program (NYT | EB)
  • U.S. wants Libya dropped from terror list (USAT/EB )
  • Unions object to civil service policy changes (WP | EB)
  • Military base housing construction provides jobs (PI | EB)
  • "Caring for the families of fallen Soldiers" Opinion (TH/EB)
  • "Venezuela's dangerous exports" Editorial (WT | EB)

WORLD VIEW

  • Historic opening session of Iraqi Parliament (Arab News)
  • Afghanistan elections delayed to September (BBC)
  • Time not right for Palestine, Israel truce (Aljazeera)

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SENIOR LEADERS ARE SAYING

Sustaining [the] international and resource commitments, to recognize that there is still much to be done here by everyone in the international community, is crucial to keeping this success going. If this were a 10-mile race here in Afghanistan, we're at about mile three. There are many miles to go, and it's going to take great support to get to that.

Lt. Gen. David Barno
Commander, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan

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