The latest: U.S. military deaths, suicide bombings and opium production hit record highs in 2007. Taliban militants killed more than 925 Afghan police, and large swaths of the country remain outside government control.

Positive outlook: U.S. officials in Kabul insist things are looking up. The Afghan army is assuming a larger combat role, and militants appear unlikely to mount a major spring offensive, as had been feared a year ago. Training for Afghan police is increasing.

Turmoil lingers: Still, six years after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, violence persists in much of southern Afghanistan where the government has little presence, and recent militant attacks in Pakistan highlight a long-term regional problem with Al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO forces in the first half of the year rattled the government, and more foreign fighters flowed into the country.

Taliban fighters avoided head-on battles with U.S., NATO and Afghan army forces in 2007, resorting instead to ambushes and suicide bombings, but attacked the weakest of Afghan forces to devastating effect. More than 925 Afghan policemen died in Taliban ambushes in 2007, including 16 killed Saturday during an assault on a Helmand Province checkpoint.

Record violence: Afghanistan in 2007 saw record violence that killed more than 6,500 people, including 110 U.S. troops -- the highest level ever in Afghanistan -- and almost 4,500 militants, according to an Associated Press count. Britain lost 41 soldiers, while Canada lost 30. Other nations lost a total of 40.

The AP count is based on figures from Western and Afghan officials and is not definitive. Afghan officials are known to exaggerate Taliban deaths and NATO's International Security Assistance Force does not release numbers of militants it killed, meaning AP's estimate of 4,478 militants deaths could be low.

More records: Taliban suicide bombers set off a record number of attacks this year -- more than 140.

The fight against poppies failed: Afghanistan this year produced 93 percent of the world's opium, the main ingredient in heroin.

Qualified progress: The eastern region of the country where U.S. forces primarily operate now has 85 government centers, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. David Accetta said. There were no government centers during the Taliban rule.

"It's a clear example of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan expanding its reach to the people," Accetta said. "If in 2008 the U.S., NATO in general, is unable to make any notable differences in the [Pakistani] tribal areas, the situation in Afghanistan will not get better."