Gates sees war gains — but can Afghans hold them? (AP) – 267th Edition

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, front right, greets members of the Afghan National Police during a visit to Combat Outpost Kowall, Afghanistan, on Tuesday March 8, 2011, west of the city of Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates hailed progress in the key battleground of southern Afghanistan Tuesday, meeting troops before the planned start of foreign force withdrawals from July. (AP Photo / Mandel Ngan)AP – The Taliban are reeling. U.S. and Afghan troops are clicking. The war is going really well. That’s what Pentagon chief Robert Gates heard in two days with troops and commanders. Much less clear: the hoped-for advances in the Afghan government’s ability to provide basic services and extend its authority beyond Kabul, just months before the American troop drawdown begins.

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