The NATO-led Resolute Support Deputy Chief of Staff for Communication Army Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland has said the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are making slow and steady progress, giving them momentum for an expected tough fight ahead.
Briefing reporters in Pentagon via teleconference, Gen. Cleveland said “It’s still obviously very early in the fighting season [with] a long way to go.”
Gen. Cleveland further added “Frankly, there will be bad days over the coming months — there’s no doubt about that.”
But the Afghan forces, he added, are “slowly but surely getting progressively better.”
According to Gen. Cleveland, gains have been achieved in Kunduz, where the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces’ early spring offensive degraded the Taliban.
“Although the ANDSF did bend a little bit, they didn’t break and they were able to repel the Taliban,” he said. “Once they successfully did that, they were able to reopen lines of communication out to the surrounding provinces.”
The Afghan forces have performed better this year, in comparison to last year, Cleveland said.
“Based on that, we are cautiously optimistic about the coming months, because overall we do believe that they have some momentum right now,” he said.
He reported a “small, slow [and] gradual, but steady level of improvement.”
Cleveland cited the Afghan forces’ increased expertise in their newer capabilities, including in special operations. In addition, they have switched from a defensive mindset to an offensive one, Cleveland said. -KP
THE PASHTUN TIMES