WASHINGTON — Much of Afghanistan remains at risk of falling to the Taliban, and Pakistan is unwilling to stop its secret support for militants who mount attacks from its tribal areas, according to two new classified intelligence reports that contradict upbeat assessments by U.S. military officials about the war.
The National Intelligence Estimates on Afghanistan and Pakistan, which represent the collective view of more than a dozen intelligence agencies, were the subject of a recent closed hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee. On Thursday, the White House is slated to issue its progress report on Afghanistan.
U.S. officials who declined to be named discussing classified material confirmed key findings in the intelligence estimates, McClatchy Newspapers said.
The gloomy analysis of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the estimates contrasts with recent remarks by U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said after visiting the region last week that he is convinced the war strategy is working.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed off on a draft of the White House review after meeting with security advisers, spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
The review will say that "there has been some important progress in halting the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan," Gibbs said, and that "we've seen greater cooperation over the course of the past 18 months with the Pakistani government." It also will point to problems, including "the ongoing challenge and threat of safe havens in Pakistan," he said.
Military commanders concede that a failure to destroy the Taliban's sanctuary in Pakistan could further delay the success of the Obama strategy.
Obama, who sent 30,000 additional troops to support an Afghanistan counterinsurgency strategy, has pledged that troop withdrawals would start in July 2011, contingent on conditions on the ground.