The latest American assessment of their war in Afghanistan will be out on Thursday as the White House makes public the Annual Review of their Af-Pak policy. The much awaited Af-Pak policy document will review the decisions taken by US President Barack Obama, in December last year where he announced an initial massive surge of US troops and the beginning of the withdrawal of troops by July, 2011. "I think we are seeing some progress. We still have many challenges in both security and governance," White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, said. "We have progress and we have challenges. That is something that is talked much about when we go into these meetings in the Situation Room," he said, adding that the monthly situation room meeting on Af-Pak is slated for Tuesday.
Before the announcement there would be another meeting, he said. "I think the President feels confident that we're on the track where we should be and that we can certainly meet our commitments to begin a conditions based drawdown of our forces next July," Gibbs said. "The President will make a statement on Thursday and there will be a public release for the December review," he said.
Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and one of America's most experienced and feisty diplomats, died early today after he underwent surgery for a torn aorta. His death comes on the eve of the crucial monthly Af-Pak situation room meeting at the White House to which he was a permanent fixture in the current administration.
To be chaired by Obama, Tuesday's meeting would include Vice President Joe Biden; Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State; Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense; Jack Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations (via videoconference); Tom Donilon, National Security Advisor; James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence and John Brennan, Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism Advisor. Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor; Michele Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defence for Policy; Leon Panetta, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Rajiv Shah, Administrator, USAID; Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (via videoconference) will also be present in the meeting.
Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Ambassador to Afghanistan (via videoconference); Ambassador Cameron Munter, US Ambassador to Pakistan (via videoconference) and General David Petraeus, Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force, are among other key participants to the Af-Pak meeting.