WASHINGTON – Much of Afghanistan remains at risk of falling to the Taliban, and Pakistan is unwilling to stop its secret support for militants who mount attacks from its tribal areas, according to two new classified intelligence reports that contradict upbeat assessments by U.S. military officials about the war.

The National Intelligence Estimates on Afghanistan and Pakistan, which represent the collective view of more than a dozen intelligence agencies, were the subject of a recent closed hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee. On Thursday, the White House is slated to issue its progress report on Afghanistan.

The gloomy analysis of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the estimates contrasts sharply with recent remarks by U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said after visiting the region last week that he is convinced the war strategy is working.

“It certainly makes one wonder,” one congressional official said of the disconnect between the intelligence community and the military.

President Obama on Tuesday signed off on a draft of the White House review after meeting with his top security advisers, spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The review will say that “there has been some important progress in halting the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan,” Gibbs said, and that “we’ve seen greater cooperation over the course of the past 18 months with the Pakistani government.” It also will point to problems, including “the ongoing challenge and threat of safe havens in Pakistan,” he said.

Declining to be named discussing classified material, U.S. officials confirmed key findings in the intelligence estimates.

It’s unclear to what extent the intelligence estimates examined the impact of the CIA’s increased use of Predator drone strikes against militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas – the main tool at American disposal in a country largely off limits to U.S. troops.

But in concluding that the Taliban sanctuaries in those areas remain intact, the reports suggest that drone strikes have not been sufficient to stop militants from staging attacks against NATO forces.

Nevertheless, a U.S. official maintained that CIA operations in Pakistan – a euphemism for drone strikes – have greatly degraded military safe havens in Pakistan over the past two years.

“They’re making a hell of a difference,” and “have saved numerous American lives,” he said.

Obama, who sent 30,000 additional troops to support an Afghanistan counterinsurgency strategy, has pledged that troop withdrawals would start in July 2011, contingent on conditions on the ground.

But Obama told NATO members last month that 2014 is the date by which the U.S. hopes to cede full control to Afghan forces, an indication that any 2011 drawdown is likely to be small.

That announcement was meant in part to reassure Pakistan that the U.S. intended to remain heavily engaged in the region, increasing pressure on Pakistan to cut its ties to Afghan insurgents, one U.S. official said.

National Intelligence Estimates make use of analysis and information from all the intelligence agencies, including those that are part of the Pentagon.

Military officers countered that the assessments are “dated” because the review period stopped in September, as the last of the additional forces were arriving.

“You are missing at least two and a half months of intensive operations with the full complement of surge forces,” said a senior defense official, who added that intelligence analysts lack the “proximity and perspective that our forces have who are on the ground living this every single day.”

A senior intelligence official rejected that claim, saying, “The notion that intelligence officers aren’t on the ground in Afghanistan and on the front lines in the fight against terrorism is preposterous. Our people are working side by side the United States military and our foreign partners to thwart our common enemies.”

The CIA has primary responsibility for counterterrorism operations in Pakistan, with technical and human sources that afford a continual stream of information about events there.

Military commanders concede that a failure to destroy the Taliban’s sanctuary in Pakistan could further delay the success of the Obama strategy.

The intelligence estimates concluded that Pakistan is both unwilling and unable to stop harboring and supporting the Taliban, one U.S. official said.

Pakistan, which is on track to receive $7.5 billion in U.S. civilian aid, denies secretly backing the Taliban. However, the U. S. continues to gather intelligence suggesting that elements of Pakistan’s security services arm, train and fund extremist militants, according to military and State Department documents disclosed this year by WikiLeaks.

Unless the Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan are closed, “it’s going to take a lot longer,” to achieve stability and hand over security responsibilities to Afghan troops, Maj. Gen. John C. Campbell, the senior commander in eastern Afghanistan, told reporters last week.

Campbell has been planning to close some of the remaining U.S. outposts near the Afghan-Pakistan border and consolidate his forces in areas where more Afghans live, in keeping with the U.S. strategy of protecting the population.

But senior commanders are wary about shrinking the U.S. presence near the border, for fear doing so would give insurgents an even larger sanctuary, officials said.

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, the top NATO commander, is especially worried that U.S. gains in stabilizing southern Afghanistan will be at risk next year unless there is progress at curtailing the Taliban presence in and around the city of Quetta, in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, several U.S. military officers said.

The Pakistan army has troops in Baluchistan but has conducted no major combat operations there.

A senior U.S. military official said he remains hopeful that Pakistan will move against Taliban sanctuaries.

At some point, the officer said, “the Pakistan government will find it difficult to protect (or) ignore the snakes who they believe will only bite the neighbor’s kids, and realize that these same snakes are part of the larger problem of an existential threat to their homeland.”