On 14 Dec the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen said that the insurgents “have a dominant influence in 11 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.”br /Further, they are becoming more effective at using IEDs and small-unit tactics. Mullen said that he is deeply concerned by the growing level of collusion between the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaida, and other extremist groups taking refuge across the border in Pakistan. He sees getting at this network as key to success in the country. Fortunately, there’s other good news. The Pakistani offensive in South Waziristan is going well, Mullen said. “The Pakistani military, while taking a significant number of casualties, is taking the fight to this most dangerous enemy of their state,” he said. It’s clear that consolidating military gains by ensuring a safe environment for building and governance is the most difficult part of counterinsurgency ops.br /Mullen’s comments are right on target. The war in Afghanistan needs to be won on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan boarder, and the Paks are now seriously focusing on the previously ignored part of their country. Once the terrorists are dealt with it will be up to the local people to govern themselves.