Afghan and security forces waited, and waited, for the Taliban Spring Offensive, but it never came. Gun battles with the Taliban were down 50 percent so far, compared to last year. Roadside bomb attacks were about the same. But Taliban casualties were up, as more Afghan and NATO forces went looking for them. Last year, 8,000 people died in Taliban violence. So far this year, the death toll is 1,200, indicating casualties for the year will be about half what they were last year. This year, a higher proportion of the dead are Taliban and al Qaeda, and a lower proportion civilians.
This is one source, with one story, from one front in a global war, but it's still good news. The story also notes the ongoing link between the battles in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan:
Afghan and NATO commanders were taken by surprise when a pro-al Qaeda website reported that one of their leaders, Abu Suleiman al Otaibi, had been killed recently in a battle with foreign troops. Until last year, al Otaibi had been sought in Iraq, where he was a known leader of terrorist forces. But many al Qaeda leaders and technical experts have departed Iraq in the last year. Some have "retired" (gone inactive, and into hiding), but most of those who have disappeared from Iraq have been showing up in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Strategy Page continues to provide valuable insight into military and diplomatic affairs around the globe. I highly recommend checking out their site regularly.
UPDATE- Perhaps checking out this site will prevent Barack Obama from displaying his ignorance quite so frequently:
Obama posited -- incorrectly -- that Arabic translators deployed in Iraq are needed in Afghanistan -- forgetting, momentarily, that Afghans don't speak Arabic.
"We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then its harder for us to use them in Afghanistan," Obama said.
The vast majority of military translators in both war zones are drawn from the local population.
Naturally they speak the local language. In Iraq, that's Arabic or Kurdish. In Afghanistan, it's any of a half dozen other languages -- including Pashtu, Dari, and Farsi.
No sooner did Obama realize his mistake -- and correct himself -- but he immediately made another.
"We need agricultural specialists in Afghanistan, people who can help them develop other crops than heroin poppies, because the drug trade in Afghanistan is what is driving and financing these terrorist networks. So we need agricultural specialists," he said.
So far, so good.
"But if we are sending them to Baghdad, they're not in Afghanistan," Obama said.
Iraq has many problems, but encouraging farmers to grow food instead of opium poppies isn't one of them. In Iraq, oil fields not poppy fields are a major source of U.S. technical assistance.