Next steps in war to be reviewed after discussions with Ghani and Nicholson

Mattis-calls-GhaniKABUL: The US Secretary of Defense General John Nicholson has said that the next steps in war will be reviewed after discussions with the Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and commander of the US forces and NATO’s Resolute Support commander General John Nicholson.

Mattis was speaking with the reporters after scraping a visit to Afghanistan due to bad weather condition.

The Pentagon chief said the Trump administration is waiting for his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan.

“He’s waiting for my assessment and the assessment from the intelligence community and he’s open to my advice on it,” Mattis was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Mattis further added “But first of all I’ve got to formulate where I stand.”

Expressing concerns regarding the a spike in Afghan forces casualties, Mattis said “The Afghan security forces paid a very heavy price to keep the Taliban on their back foot. But they paid it, they held.”

He also added “And the Taliban’s in a worse position today, even though I do not equate that to success on our side.”

This comes as Gen. Nicholson earlier said additional forces are needed to take forward the training mission of the Afghan forces as well as conducting counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.

The US forces based in Afghanistan have resumed counter-terrorism operations since early last year.

The operations involving mainly airstrikes were resumed after they were granted broader role by the Obama administration, a step which was taken amid concerns that the militant and terrorist groups are attempting expand foothold in the country. -KP

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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