This week, the Obama administration is scheduled to release its long-anticipated review of its Afghan war strategy and progress in the conflict. It is widely expected to reflect Gen. David Petraeus's belief that the "counterinsurgency math" in Afghanistan finally adds up, and that U.S. and allied forces, along with their Afghan security force counterparts, have reversed the Taliban's momentum in the insurgency's critical strongholds in southern Afghanistan.
The question we would like national security bloggers to address is whether this progress is sustainable given the timelines and challenges that remain. U.S. commanders in Afghanistan applaud NATO's recent adoption of the end of 2014 as the timeline for transferring security responsibilities for the entire country to Afghan security forces. Is that enough time to degrade the capabilities of the Taliban sufficiently for Afghan security forces to take control? Has the 2014 deadline relieved some of the anxiety and unhelpful hedging provoked by Obama's July 2011 deadline for "beginning" to withdraw U.S. forces? Under the current timeframe, can enough progress be made in reducing endemic corruption in the Afghan government, and in making insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan less secure, to give the strategy a chance to succeed? Bottom line: Does the progress reflected in this week's review represent a potential tipping point in the war, or another tactical advance that will ultimately fail to overcome the immense challenges in Afghanistan?