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US Presence in Afghanistan as Long as Soviet Union's

United States Marines watch the explosion after calling in an air strike to clear the area of insurgents near Musa Qaleh, southern Afghanistan (file photo – 23 Jul 2010)

The United States has now been fighting in Afghanistan as long as the Soviet Union did before it withdrew in 1989. Friday marks nine years and 50 days that U.S. forces have been fighting in Afghanistan.

The U.S. says it will continue its presence in Afghanistan for at least four more years, with the goal of ending the campaign in 2014.

A Pentagon-led report released earlier this week described the progress made since the United States injected 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan earlier this year as fragile.

The study said there has been progress in establishing security in key parts of Afghanistan, but the Taliban is a resilient enemy that retains significant capabilities.

In the semi-annual report, the Pentagon also acknowledged that efforts to build up the Afghan government and promote economic development are lagging behind security progress.

The report said there was still much work to be done to convince the Afghan people to support their government rather than the insurgents.

The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, said Tuesday Afghan forces are showing signs they will be ready to take over security responsibilities in 2014.

But he also said numerous steps have to be taken before the Afghans will be ready to take charge of security for the entire country.

Earlier on Tuesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused NATO of providing Afghan forces with "insufficient equipment" and threatened to seek military supplies from other sources.

Mr. Karzai said Afghan forces need more help if they are to take full control of the country's security by the 2014 deadline officially endorsed by NATO members at a summit in Portugal last week.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.