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US commander praises Afghan forces

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: During a media interaction at the Pentagon, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, had praised the capability of Afghan security forces.

Taliban were unable to hold ground in Afghanistan as Afghan security forces got better in their performances in 2015, he said.

“Under ISAF, we were helping to support the Afghan security forces, helping to build their capacity, and we are no longer doing the fighting and the Afghan security forces have that all on their own,” he said.

“This was their first year when they had the fight all on their own,” he said, referring to 2015 year operation conducted by the Afghan security forces.

According to him, the assessment of Afghan security forces performances in 2015 had mixed results, adding that they were fairly well whenever they conducted deliberate planned operations. “One of the important things is that they (Afghan security forces) applied and learned lessons from one operation to the next. They got better,” he said.

“It required more time to get forces in position, and then it required more time to stabilize the situation. They did get somewhat better at crisis response, but that remains one of their weaknesses and one of the areas they’re going to have to continue to focus on,” he added.

However, he mentioned that Taliban did make some temporary gains, but they were not able to hold ground and they were not able to govern.

“In every case, the Afghan security forces were able to retake the ground that the Taliban took, whether it was a roadway or a district center or key terrain. The Afghan security forces bounced back and retook,” he added.

“Perhaps, the best example of that is the fact that the Afghan security forces retook the city of Kunduz province in just seven days which has over 300,000 people,” he said.

He added that there are still some challenges in the east, particularly in Nangarhar and the south, most particularly in Helmand, provinces as it has been a contested area for many years to deal with.

“We expect a tough fight in Helmand and we expect that tough fight to continue through the winter,” he said.

He added that they know that control of Helmand remains a goal for the Taliban. It’s also the main effort of the Afghan security forces, and not surprisingly, it’s the main effort of the coalition forces which are training, advising and assisting the Afghan forces in Helmand, he said.

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