In an exclusive interview with NATO TV, ISAF Commander General David Petraeus updates us - in the clear and understandable way only he can - on the war in Afghanistan. He says he expects violence to increase again this year as he continues his counter-insurgency campaign across Afghanistan but he is seeing signs of discord appear within the Taliban.
Here's a couple of excerpts from an AP story about GEN Petraeus interview, but it's well worth reading the whole thing.
BRUSSELS — The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warned that combat will likely escalate during the spring thaw as Taliban insurgents try to return to areas cleared by the international forces during the past several months.
“There’s been considerable progress in taking away from the Taliban safe havens,” Gen. David Petraeus said in an interview with NATO TV aired on Wednesday.
“They have to fight back, they’re losing momentum that’s quite clear,” he said. “They know they need to regain that momentum.”
Last year’s surge boosted the international force to about 150,000 troops. NATO and President Hamid Karzai hope to have more than 300,000 Afghan army and police in action by next autumn facing a much smaller organized insurgent force.
The Obama administration and NATO plan to begin reducing their troop contingent in July, and to end its combat role by the end of 2014.
The conflict usually dies down during the winter, as the guerrillas retreat to their safe havens to rest and recuperate.
Petraeus said intelligence reports indicate that Taliban leaders are worried by the situation and that there is “friction and discord” between the guerrillas in the field and their leadership in Pakistan.
But analysts caution that the Taliban — in keeping with classic guerrilla strategy — have simply fallen back in the face of an overwhelming forces, dispersing into other, safer parts of the country. They are likely to remain on the defensive until NATO forces begin withdrawing in significant numbers.