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Intelligence Reports Cast Doubts on Afghan Strategy

U.S. soldiers walk past the scattered parts of a vehicle used in an explosion on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, 12 Nov. 2010.

Two new intelligence reports are raising questions about the U.S. Afghan war policy, just as President Barack Obama plans to release a review of American strategy in Afghanistan on Thursday.

The reports, leaked to the New York Times newspaper, say the U.S. military has made gains against the Taliban but remains hindered by the apparent unwillingness of Pakistan to take action against Taliban bases in its tribal regions along the Afghan border.

The reports, which are called National Intelligence Estimates, are compiled by the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, and were submitted recently to Congress.

The reports also say U.S. drone strikes on al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan are having an impact and that security has improved in parts of Afghanistan's southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces, where coalition and Afghan troops have built up a large presence this year.

Meanwhile, the head of the British armed forces says there has been progress in Afghanistan. Speaking to a gathering of security experts in London on Wednesday, General David Richards said coalition forces are operating from a position of strength, and the insurgency has begun to deteriorate.

The review of the U.S. war strategy comes as patience with the Afghan war is wearing thin after more than nine years and the untimely death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, President Obama's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, a veteran diplomat, who died Monday following a tear in his aorta at the age of 69.