By Joe Sterling
In what a new Pentagon report calls "a fundamental shift in the course" of the Afghan conflict, local security forces are improving their performance and "successfully providing security for their own people."
But according to a report to Congress on Friday, the successes come with a cost: a sharp increase in security force casualties during this year's April to September fighting season and challenges remaining for the indigenous force after U.S. forces leave.
This snapshot of the security forces is all-important as the United States prepares to withdraw all of its troops from the country by the end of next year.
The report said the Afghan National Security Forces "have seen their capabilities expand rapidly since 2009, while insurgent territorial influence and kinetic capabilities have remained static." But the report also says more needs to be done.