Outgoing NATO commander in Afghanistan says we're 'on the road to winning'
An optimistic assessment or simply horse manure?
"Counter-insurgencies take a while and it is difficult to put a dot on a calendar and say, 'Today, we won'," Gen Allen told the BBC.
"I think we have gone a long way to setting the conditions for what, generally, usually, is the defining factor in winning a counter-insurgency - to set the conditions for governance, to set the conditions for economic opportunity.... I think we are on the road to winning."
During his 19-month tour, Gen Allen managed the transfer of security across much of the country to the Afghan army and police.
His successor is expected to be Isaf's last commander, who will oversee the withdrawal of most of the foreign troops in the country.
Gen Dunford, a Marine like Gen Allen, took over the leadership on Sunday in a ceremony at International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) headquarters in Kabul.
"Today is not about change, it's about continuity," he said. "What has not changed is the will of this coalition."
There has not been any official announcement from the White House as to how many US troops will remain in Afghanistan.
But Gen Allen said that the idea of no American military presence in the country was not an option, and that he had not even been asked to look at its feasibility.
"It's no direction that we intend to go. The president was clear talking about the presence of US forces in this case in the post-2014 period being orientated on training, advising and assisting so that was an indication to me, having not been asked, that the zero option is probably not on the table."
I appreciate what the general is saying, but someone should have asked him what good it does to turn security for a region or a province over to the locals if the Afghan military and police can't protect the people? The Taliban and other terrorists are running wild in some parts of the country, shooing the army away as if they were flies and then setting up shop in villages and towns, imposing sharia law, and daring anyone to come dislodge them.
The fact is large swaths of the country are still in danger and the training of the Afghan army and police is light years from where it has to be. It is a gradual process and many Afghan units are making steady progress. But, as in Iraq, it takes time to train officers who can lead men into combat and build the kind of unit cohesion that makes an effective fighting force.
We'll see how much progress we can make before combat troops leave the country in 2014.