Pentagon Adviser: Taliban Think They Can Outlast U.S. Troops

Pentagon adviser: NATO report shows U.S. falling shy of goals.

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A report based on interrogations of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan shows the U.S.-led war effort is failing to meet Washington's goals, says a Pentagon adviser.

The report, prepared by the NATO command running the allied war effort, is one in a series drawn from interrogations of thousands of Taliban and al Qaeda detainees. Among other findings, the report found the anti-U.S. fighters' morale is high--contrary to NATO allegations that Taliban and al Qaeda ranks are filled with disgruntled forces.

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The NATO report says the Taliban believes it can win in Afghanistan by outlasting U.S. and Western forces, which are scheduled to leave in late 2014, according to media accounts. The NATO study also concluded the Taliban is in cahoots with senior officials of Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence agency.

"This report shows that we are not seeing the signs of progress that we had hoped for," said Anthony Cordesman, a Pentagon adviser and Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst. "There are few signs these Taliban fighters are willing to compromise or give up."

Cordesman helped U.S. military officials craft President Obama's revised Afghan war strategy in 2009.

The Obama administration plans to largely end U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan next year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday, prompting criticism from GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney. The NATO report has "the policy people inside the administration asking questions about what do we stand to gain from staying" beyond 2014" Cordesman said.

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Notably, the report's findings bring into the open "a very serious debate between the intelligence community and NATO commanders," Cordesman said. The former "disagrees with NATO's claim that the Taliban has been weakened," he said. To that end, several Pentagon officials told a House panel Wednesday they believe the United States is winning in Afghanistan, citing progress made over the last year.

Cordesman, a veteran of the national security planning apparatus, cautioned to not put too much stock in a single report. "The policy people will make decisions and be impacted by many reports they read on a daily basis."

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