A reelected Pres. Obama will likely meet the 2014 deadline to remove most troops from Afghanistan. I'm reasoning this because there's a patten of activity right now in Afghanistan which resembles the 'declare success and get out' approach President Obama just demonstrated in his decision to move forward with the Iraq withdrawal ahead of schedule; despite the ongoing conflicts and possibly escalating violence in the war-torn nation.
First I'd start with the reported 'planning' by the Pentagon to move forward with their handover and pullback from their self-defined 'litmus test' in the Kandahar region. It hasn't happened yet, and there's a great deal of protest reported from the locals we put in place to manage things in the wake of our forces' deadly and costly assault on Marjah and our occupation of Kandahar City.
from a Nov. 2 AP report: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/nov/02/as-afghanistan /
"Lawmakers from Kandahar said Tuesday that Afghan forces are far from ready to assume full security responsibility in the province that was the birthplace of the Taliban, stressing it should be among the last regions where NATO forces hand over control to Afghan counterparts . . ."
"The Kandahar legislators fear their province will be on the second list that President Hamid Karzai is expected to announce in the coming weeks as regions where security is to be handed over to Afghan forces."
However . . .
"Instead of a six-stage transition process, U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the coalition's top commander in the country, has said the plan is to now achieve the transition in five steps, with the last starting as early as the fall of 2013 instead of later that year or early 2014."
"Initially, the idea was to have Afghan security forces take charge in the most peaceful areas first. But Allen said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that Afghan, coalition officials and others recently decided it would be unwise to transfer the most volatile provinces in 2014, when the international force's footprint will be shrinking."
So, the commanders on the ground are already planning forward to 2013 and 2014, with little regard for the chaos, violence and danger they've bequeathed to Kandahar, and even moving their transition date forward to accommodate the anticipated reduction in force.
Already, the rhetoric about 'success' is being allowed to rise above their own bleak report to Congress in which they claim gains, yet report that civilians have died in record numbers under our military forces' supposed protection and that their 'goals' may not be achieved as planned.
A summary of bullet points from the Pentagon report from Ahmad Shuja at UNDispatch: http://www.undispatch.com/how-the-american-military-sees-its-campaign-in-afghanistan-progressing
--Transition remains on track with no demonstrated effort by the insurgency to target the process.
--International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and its Afghan partners have made important security gains, reversing violence trends in much of the country (except along the border with Pakistan).
--Overall, year-to-date enemy attacks nationwide were five percent lower than the same period in 2010, and attacks continue to decline.
- The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) continued to make substantial progress during the reporting period, increasing in quantity, quality, and operational effectiveness.
--Both the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) remain on track to achieve their respective growth goals for October 2012.
--During this reporting period, both the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior made significant progress in being able to train, and thereby generate, their own forces.
You can read the entire report here (PDF): http://www.undispatch.com/un-content/uploads/2011/10/Report-on-Progress-Toward-Security-and-Stability-in-Afghanistan.pdf
The report is full of assessments of 'successes and progress' . . . with glaring, contradicting exceptions.
"Civilian casualties -- most caused by the Taliban -- reached an all-time high this summer with approximately 450 civilians killed in July," the report reads. "Attacks using homemade bombs, or IEDs, also reached an all-time high this past summer, with about 750 IED detonations recorded in July."
from Just Foreign Policy: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/obamavsbush