The real test of President Barack Obama's Afghanistan strategy comes not Thursday, when the White House addresses it, but next summer.
The White House will release its one-year assessment of Obama's Afghanistan troop surge on Thursday. It's expected to claim progress in confronting the Taliban-led insurgency, while acknowledging shortfalls in building a stable Afghan government and ending insurgent havens in Pakistan.
The 40-page-plus review isn't expected to yield major policy changes nor shifts in the level of U.S. troops there, who number slightly less than 100,000.
U.S. advisers and analysts who follow Afghanistan closely say the trends are ambiguous and it will be next July before the results of Obama's policy switch, announced last December in an address at West Point, will be clear.
After another spring fighting season, they say, it will be apparent whether aggressive NATO military operations in southern Kandahar and Helmand provinces have dealt the Taliban a serious blow or U.S. combat successes prove ephemeral.