07/15/2010 06:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Holbrooke Spars With US Senate Members Over Afghan Strategy

Today's AfPak round-up:

Senators spar with Holbrooke over Afghan strategy. U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he admitted President Obama's counterinsurgency strategy had yet to bring a "turning point" in NATO's favor, did little to assuage Democrats' and Republicans' doubts about the war. Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) told Holbrooke it was unclear "what the definition of success is in Afghanistan," while ranking minority member Richard Lugar (R-IN) warned this "lack of clarity" could lead to "mission creep toward unattainable goals." [AFP]

Karzai backs creation of local defense forces. Under the plan, up to 10,000 fighters will be recruited and trained by U.S. special forces to defend their local communities from insurgents. Afghan President Hamid Karzai had objected to the idea of local forces for months, arguing that warlords would take control of the forces and use them to plunge Afghanistan into civil war. U.S. commanders won his support by agreeing that local officers would be vetted and paid by the Afghan government. [WashPo]

Taliban kidnap health team, kill tribal leader. Saleh Mohammad, a member of a tribal council in southern Afghanistan, was reportedly killed on direct orders from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. His death, together with the kidnapping of two doctors, a pharmacist, a nurse and their driver outside Kandahar City, is the latest in a spree of assassinations and abductions by the Taliban, carried out in a bid to intimidate Afghans from cooperating with NATO forces. [AP]

Pentagon revamps media strategy. The plan, which centers on a major increase in the number of briefings by Gen. David Petraeus and his field commanders to the Pentagon press corps, is similar to the strategy employed by Petraeus when he was deployed to Iraq in 2007. The Defense Department hopes this new strategy will allow it to better explain its war strategy and draw attention to areas of Afghanistan where this strategy seems to be working. [WashPo]