Clapper added: "Corruption as well as poor leadership and management will threaten Afghan National Security Forces' operational effectiveness."
Burgess made clear Iran is actively working to thwart the American-led mission across its eastern border. "Tehran seeks to prevent a strategic partnership declaration between Afghanistan and the United States," he said. "Iran provides weapons, funding, and training to insurgents, while maintaining ties with the government in Kabul and supporting development efforts."
The intelligence officials' candid assessments of the Afghanistan conflict and the prospects for success come as multiple polls show a majority of the American public favor ending the war.
For good reason, says one prominent military analyst.
"The development of Afghan national security forces ... is in a state of total confusion," according to Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon strategic planner and now a Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst. "It is being rushed forward while spending is being drastically cut, long before it is clear how long it will take to create effective force elements and how serious the limits will be to the quality of much of the military and police forces.
"In practice, the Obama administration does not seem to have any clear plan as yet for transition" to Afghans controlling their own country, according to Cordesman. "It has concepts and debates, but does not seem to have come to grips with any of the key issues it must deal with in shaping the outcome of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The U.S. has never set meaningful strategic goals for the war."