Defense Sec. Gates noted steady progress, exceeding his expectations.
A snapshot of a visit by TWS in Taliban Country:
We squeeze into the cramped rear seat of a green Ford Ranger Afghan National Police truck. Neither Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Andy Veres—the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) commander—nor the State Department’s James Dayringer nor I wear the body armor and helmet that used to be mandatory for any trip outside the wire of American bases here. Yet we are about to drive 30 miles from the PRT in downtown Qalat to remote Arghandab District in an unarmored car.
On my previous visits to Zabul in November 2009 and April 2010, we would have had to go with a company of American maneuver troops in Humvees. This is Afghanistan’s second-poorest province, where the Taliban’s roots are deep. And while today’s trip takes three hours each way, a year ago it might have taken days, depending on how many IEDs were discovered and how many exploded.
And Special Ops takes on the AfPak border.
...In other news: Iran Denies Woman in Stoning Case Was Freed, Says Photos Were for TV Show