Year 2011 seen as make-or-break year for coalition forces in Afghanistan

Kabul, Jan 1(ANI): 2011 will become the make-or-break year for the Afghan mission after ambitious campaigns and a US troop build-up in 2010 failed to yield dramatic results against the Taliban.

According to officials, with both the Taliban and the West promising to intensify their military actions in months ahead, civilians will continue to take the brunt of suicide attacks and roadside bombings that haunt daily life in many parts of the country, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Western officials, who describe an improving picture in Afghanistan, acknowledge that the coming year is likely to be a difficult one.

"Our assessment is before it gets better, it may get worse," Staffan de Mistura, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, told the Nations Security Council last week.

At the outset of 2010, Kandahar was declared a testing ground for the US-led military push in the south. After months of delays, Western forces did manage to drive the Taliban out of key districts surrounding Kandahar city, but the durability of gains touted in the province will probably not be apparent until springtime, Western commanders have acknowledged.

Much depends on whether the insurgents are able to regroup and rearm over the winter in their traditional sanctuaries in Pakistan, which remain beyond the reach of NATO ground forces.

US officials still publicly insist that the July 2011 target for the start of a troop drawdown from Afghanistan has not been abandoned.

But a new date, 2014, has come to the fore, as that is when it is hoped that Afghan security forces will be ready to take the lead in safeguarding the country.

Although intensive recruitment efforts have swelled the Afghan police and army to a quarter of a million, their Western trainers must grapple with an array of problems in the ranks: drug abuse, illiteracy, ethnic tensions and the occasional violent and unexpected display of loyalty to the Taliban. (ANI)

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