In public statements U.S. officials had previously praised Pakistan's military effort against militants during its offensive in South Waziristan in November 2009. Karzai started peace talks with Haqqani network groups in March 2010. and there were other peace initiatives including the Afghan Peace Jirga 2010. In July 2010, a U.S. Army report read: "It seems to always be this way when we go there [to meet civilians]. No one wants anything to do with us." A report on meeting up with school representatives mentioned students throwing rocks at soldiers and not welcoming their arrival, as had been reported on several occasions elsewhere. President Zardari said that Pakistan had spent over 35 billion U.S. dollars during the previous eight years fighting against militancy. According to the Afghan government, approximately 900 Taliban were killed in operations conducted during 2010. Due to increased use of IEDs by insurgents the number of injured coalition soldiers, mainly Americans, significantly increased. Beginning in May 2010 NATO special forces began to concentrate on operations to capture or kill specific Taliban leaders. As of March 2011, the U.S. military claimed that the effort had resulted in the capture or killing of more than 900 low- to mid-level Taliban commanders. Overall, 2010 saw the most insurgent attacks of any year since the war began, peaking in September at more than 1,500. Insurgent operations increased "dramatically" in two-thirds of Afghan provinces.
Deployment of additional U.S. troops continued in early 2010, with 9,000 of the planned 30,000 in place before the end of March and another 18,000 expected by June, with the 101st Airborne Division as the main source. U.S. troops in Afghanistan outnumbered those in Iraq for the first time since 2003.
The CIA, following a request by General McChrystal, planned to increase teams of operatives, including elite SAD officers, with U.S. military special operations forces. This combination worked well in Iraq and was largely credited with the success of that surge. The CIA also increased its campaign using Hellfire missile strikes on Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. The number of strikes in 2010, 115, more than doubled the 50 drone attacks that occurred in 2009.
The surge in troops supported a sixfold increase in Special Forces operations. 700 airstrikes occurred in September 2010 alone versus 257 in all of 2009. From July 2010 to October 2010, 300 Taliban commanders and 800 foot soldiers were killed. Hundreds more insurgent leaders were killed or captured as 2010 ended. Petraeus said, "We've got our teeth in the enemy's jugular now, and we're not going to let go."
The CIA created Counter-terrorism Pursuit Teams (CTPT) staffed by Afghans at the war's beginning. This force grew to over 3,000 by 2010 and was considered one of the "best Afghan fighting forces". Firebase Lilley was one of SAD's nerve centers. These units were not only effective in operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, but have expanded their operations into Pakistan. They were also important factors in both the "counterterrorism plus" and the full "counter-insurgency" options discussed by the Obama administration in the December 2010 review.
On 25 July 2010, the release of 91,731 classified documents from the Wikileaks organization was made public. The documents cover U.S. military incident and intelligence reports from January 2004 to December 2009. Some of these documents included sanitised, and "covered up", accounts of civilian casualties caused by Coalition Forces. The reports included many references to other incidents involving civilian casualties like the Kunduz airstrike and Nangar Khel incident. The leaked documents also contain reports of Pakistan collusion with the Taliban. According to Der Spiegel, "the documents clearly show that the Pakistani intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (usually known as the ISI) is the most important accomplice the Taliban has outside of Afghanistan."
Pakistan and U.S. tensions
Tensions between Pakistan and the U.S. were heightened in late September after several Pakistan Frontier Corps soldiers were killed and wounded. The troops were attacked by a U.S. piloted aircraft that was pursuing Taliban forces near the Afghan-Pakistan border, but for unknown reasons opened fire on two Pakistan border posts. In retaliation for the strike, Pakistan closed the Torkham ground border crossing to NATO supply convoys for an unspecified period. This incident followed the release of a video allegedly showing uniformed Pakistan soldiers executing unarmed civilians. After the Torkham border closing, Pakistani Taliban attacked NATO convoys, killing several drivers and destroying around 100 tankers.
2011: U.S. and NATO drawdown
Battle of Kandahar
The Battle of Kandahar was part of an offensive named after the Battle of Bad'r that took place on 13 March 624, between Medina and Mecca. The Battle followed an 30 April announcement that the Taliban would launch their Spring offensive.
On 7 May the Taliban launched a major offensive on government buildings in Kandahar. The Taliban said their goal was to take control of the city. At least eight locations were attacked: the governor's compound, the mayor's office, the NDS headquarters, three police stations and two high schools. The battle continued onto a second day. The BBC's Bilal Sarwary called it "the worst attack in Kandahar province since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, and a embarrassment for the Western-backed Afghan government."
Death of Osama bin Laden
On 2 May U.S. officials announced that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed in Operation Neptune Spear, conducted by the CIA and U.S. Navy SEALs, in Pakistan. Crowds gathered outside the White House chanting "USA, USA" after the news emerged.
On 22 June President Obama announced that 10,000 troops would be withdrawn by the end of 2011 and an additional 23,000 troops would return by the summer of 2012. After the withdrawal of 10,000 U.S. troops, only 80,000 remained. In July 2011 Canada withdrew its combat troops, transitioning to a training role.
Following suit, other NATO countries announced troop reductions. The United Kingdom stated that it would gradually withdraw its troops, however it did not specify numbers or dates. France announced that it would withdraw roughly 1,000 soldiers by the end of 2012, with 3,000 soldiers remaining. Hundreds would come back at the end of 2011 and in the beginning of 2012, when the Afghan National Army took control of Surobi district. The remaining troops would continue to operate in Kapisa. Their complete withdrawal was expected by the end of 2014 or earlier given adequate security.
Belgium announced that half of their force would withdraw starting in January 2012. Norway announced it had started a withdrawal of its near 500 troops and would be completely out by 2014. Equally, the Spanish Prime Minister announced the withdrawal of troops beginning in 2012, including up to 40 percent by the end of the first half of 2013, and complete withdrawal by 2014.
2011 U.S.–NATO attack in Pakistan
After Neptune Spear, an accidental, direct attack on Pakistan's armed forces by ISAF forces occurred on 26 November, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan blocked NATO supply lines and ordered Americans to leave Shamsi Airfield. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the attack was 'tragic' and 'unintended'. "This (regret) is not good enough. We strongly condemn the attacks and reserve the right to take action," said DG ISPR Major General Athar Abbas. "This could have serious consequences in the level and extent of our cooperation.