US officials say that the long-promised “December review” of the Afghanistan War is nearing completion and that it will be primarily an assessment of how the most recent surge, announced last December, has worked.
The review will be presented to President Obama in mid-December, and is expected to be made public shortly thereafter. Pentagon officials have suggested the report will praise the surge and will not offer any new strategies going forward.
Which perhaps is unsurprising, as Gen. Petraeus and a number of other top officials have made a point of claiming “progress” in the war despite record death tolls and private admissions that the security situation is growing worse by the day.
The review will likely also take a miss on the question of the Kandahar offensive, nominally the centerpiece military operation for 2010, as NATO officials have warned that a fair assessment of that operation can’t even be made until next June.
As the report is scheduled to be released shortly after the first frost, a time when most of the fighting halts in Afghanistan and the militants wait for spring to resume hostilities, claims of progress will be difficult to conclusively refute for several months. By then, officials will have already settled on a policy, which is almost certain to be the status quo.
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