US advisers will help break Afghan war stalemate

United States (US) military troops in Afghanistan have started working with smaller Afghan units to prepare them for a more aggressive offensive against the Taliban next year in a push to break the stalemate in the 16-year-old war, the top US commander for the Middle East said Thursday. While acknowledging there is still much more to be done, Gen Joseph Votel sounded optimistic, saying he is seeing some positive trends in the Afghan fight. As more older Afghan commanders leave or are pushed out of their posts, younger leaders are taking over, he said, adding that the forces are conducting more operations and going on the offensive more often. As a result, he said, officials are seeing the number of casualties start to go down. “I think we’re still very keen to break the stalemate and that’s what this effort is about here,” Votel told reporters at his US Central Command headquarters. “I’m not declaring victory here with this – but I think some of the steps we’ve taken… are positive steps that are moving us in that direction to break the stalemate.” Gen Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress last week that he still considers the war a stalemate.—AP

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