US intelligence pessimistic on Afghan war: Reports

Last Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 11:41

Washington: US intelligence agencies believe the US-led war effort in Afghanistan could be doomed unless Pakistan cracks down on militant sanctuaries inside its border, media reports said on Wednesday.

Two intelligence reports, one on Afghanistan and one on Pakistan, offer a more pessimistic view of the war than top US officials and military leaders, who have touted progress in the fight against Taliban insurgents.

Details of the reports leaked a day before the White House was poised to release a strategy review, which is expected to credit a troop build-up with pushing back the Taliban while acknowledging a tough fight ahead.

The intelligence reports point to a longstanding problem cited by military officers, that Afghan Taliban and other militants move across the Pakistani border with impunity, allowing them to stage attacks against coalition troops and then cross back across the border to resupply.

The reports, or National Intelligence Estimates, reflect a consensus view of all 16 intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the Defence Intelligence Agency.

The findings were presented to some members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, the New York Times wrote.

The reports reflect a long-running disagreement between the administration and intelligence agencies over the course of the war, with defence officials saying the latest analysis is outdated as it fails to take into account events on the battlefield since September -- including progress in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.

Defence officials say the intelligence accounts are "behind the curve”, lacking insights from troops on the frontline in a fluid situation.

"We have agreed to disagree," one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the intelligence reports would be taken into account in the White House strategy review.

A recent report to Congress from the Pentagon also underlined the problem posed by the militant safe havens in Pakistan, saying elaborate efforts to cut off links to the sanctuaries have so far failed.

Pakistan has rejected criticism over the sanctuaries, saying it launched a major military campaign against militants last year in the northwest tribal belt.

However, Pakistani military officials say an offensive in North Waziristan -- home to the Haqqani network which targets NATO forces -- will only come after the Army has consolidated security elsewhere.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 11:41

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