The real test of President Obama's Afghanistan strategy comes not Thursday, when the White House addresses it, but next summer.

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WASHINGTON — The real test of President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy comes not Thursday, when the White House addresses it, but next summer.

The administration will release its one-year assessment of Obama’s Afghanistan troop buildup 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 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.

“It’s too early to make a definitive judgment on the strategy at this point. We’ve seen progress. What we haven’t seen is whether the progress will lead to the strategic end state we want,” said Carl Forsberg, an analyst at the nonpartisan Institute for the Study of War. “We won’t see that until the spring or summer.”

A study by Forsberg, released Wednesday, concludes the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force has seized momentum from the Taliban in key districts of Kandahar, the fundamentalist Muslim movement’s birthplace, particularly in the past two months.

“The Taliban will likely attempt a counteroffensive in the spring of 2011, but will suffer from the destruction of infrastructure, defensive positions and IED (improvised explosive device) factories, and loss of supply stockpiles,” says the study, facilitated by the U.S. military command in Afghanistan.

At West Point, Obama pledged “to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011,” a pledge the administration is desperate to fulfill. The target end date for the mission is late 2014, when the Afghan army and police are supposed to assume full security responsibilities.

But if violence — at record highs this year, in part because of stepped-up U.S. military operations — doesn’t subside, the president could face pressure for a faster withdrawal, for sending in more troops, or both, from opposing camps.

“There are a lot of indicators that will have to be measured. … But the one that will matter the most will be the degree to which violence begins to come down,” said a Pentagon adviser, who requested anonymity.

“If it’s not coming down by July and we still have these ambiguous indicators, then I think we’ll have to have a serious review as to whether the hypothesis we’ve been testing … should be reconsidered.”

Thursday’s assessment will cover three topics, White House officials said: Afghanistan, Pakistan and the fight against al-Qaida in the region.