WASHINGTON The assessment also found that violence in Afghanistan is higher than it was before the surge of U.S. forces into the country two years ago, although it is down from a high in the summer of 2010.
The report found that the Taliban remain resilient, that widespread corruption continues to weaken the central Afghan government and that Pakistan persists in providing critical support to the insurgency. Insider attacks by Afghan security forces on their NATO coalition partners, while still small, are up significantly: There have been 37 so far in 2012, compared with two in 2007.
As bright spots, the report identified the continued transition by Afghan security forces into taking the lead on most routine patrols throughout the country and a decline in violence in populated areas like Kabul, the Afghan capital, and Kandahar, the largest city in the south.
The assessment, Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, is required twice a year by Congress.
Obama administration officials have said that progress in the war in large part depends on whether the Taliban could rebuild after the hammering it took during the surge, when U.S. forces, with 33,000 additional troops, aggressively pursued insurgents and drove them from critical territory in the south.
But the report was blunt in its assessment of the Talibans current strength.
The Taliban-led insurgency remains adaptive and determined, and retains the capability to emplace substantial numbers of IEDs and to conduct isolated high-profile attacks, the report said, using the term for homemade bombs. The insurgency also retains a significant regenerative capacity.
The report said that although the insurgents had less capability to directly attack U.S. and Afghan forces, they had increasingly resorted to assassinations, kidnappings, intimidation tactics, encouraging insider attacks and strategic messaging campaigns.
Although the report did not provide month-by-month specific numbers of enemy-initiated attacks, it plotted them on a bar graph that showed, for example, that in July 2012 there were slightly more than 3,000 enemy-initiated attacks. In July 2009, before the surge began, the graph showed some 2,000 enemy-initiated attacks.
The report had been due to be released in early November, before the presidential election, but was delayed. The Pentagon did not give a reason for the delay