ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
For months, the Obama administration has promised to come up with benchmarks as a way to measure progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today on Capitol Hill, the administration delivered a draft. But as NPR's Mary Louise Kelly reports, it's long on lofty goals and short on specifics.
MARY LOUISE KELLY: The point of benchmarks is to answer these questions.
Senator SUSAN COLLINS (Republican, Maine): How will we assess whether the new strategy is working? How will we know if we're winning?
KELLY: That's Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, speaking back in April. Since then, she and a growing chorus of lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, have kept asking those questions.
And today, the Obama administration took a first step toward providing an answer. It's a three-page document handed to lawmakers, stamped, draft and titled, Evaluating Progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It lays out broad goals, from disrupting terror networks to improving Pakistan's counterinsurgency capabilities to promoting, quote, "a more capable, accountable and effective government in Afghanistan."
There are also some specific objectives: measuring the percentage of Afghans living in areas controlled by insurgents, for example. But the metrics are mostly subjective. It's not clear whether they'll satisfy those calling for specific benchmarks to measure progress. And it's not clear when these goals have to be met. The document says only that the administration will provide regular updates on progress beginning next March.
Meanwhile, on the question of whether more U.S. troops will be needed to win in Afghanistan, the president made clear today, he wants to take his time.
President BARACK OBAMA: There is no immediate decision pending on resources because one of the things that I'm absolutely clear about is you have to get the strategy right, and then make determinations about resources.
KELLY: President Obama speaking today at the White House. The commanding general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, is expected to submit a request for more troops within the next two weeks.
Mary Louise Kelly, NPR News, Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.