Kabul: The US-led war in Afghanistan is now longer than the Soviets` futile campaign in the benighted nation and after nine years and 50 days of battle, the West is also groping for an exit.
Afghanistan`s brutal terrain remains littered with the rusting hulks of Russian tanks captured during the 1979-89 war, and is now testing more than 140,000 US-led forces fighting rebel guerrillas to keep their own ally in power.
After NATO announced plans to end its combat mission by 2014, many of those who lived through the Soviet years say they remember similar attempts to build up local security forces and manage a dignified withdrawal.
While troops are making some gains against Taliban insurgents in pockets of the restive south and east of the country, progress remains uneven and violence is at an all-time high, the Pentagon admitted in a report last week.
The International Crisis Group says the coalition`s strategy to break the Taliban, build popular support among civilians, woo disenchanted rebels and boost Afghan security forces is failing.
Afghan security forces "have proven a poor match for the Taliban", the Brussels-based ICG said in a report issued today, after the milestone of nine years and 50 days was reached on Friday.
"Without outside support, (President Hamid Karzai`s) government would collapse, the Taliban would control much of the country and internal conflict would worsen, increasing the prospects of a return to the destructive civil war of the 1990s," the report said.