Afghan forces performing better — US military

WASHINGTON, June 1 (KUNA) — Afghan security forces are performing better and have “switched” to an “offensive mindset” compared to last year, a US military spokesperson said Wednesday.
“It’s still obviously very early in the fighting season, long way to go, and frankly there will be bad days over the coming months,” said General Charles Cleveland to reporters. Afghan troops have improved its abilities to use its newly obtained equipment, especially A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft. Four of its aircraft are now conducting “multiple” airstrikes a week and four more will be operational next month, said Cleveland.
These improvements have made the US optimistic that the Taliban’s growth in 2015 will be reduced this year, he said.
Last week the US confirmed the death of Taliban leader Mullah Mansour and said the newly appointed replacement, Haibatullah Akhundzada, does not seem likely to change the group’s operational posture.
“I don’t believe we will see peace talks anytime in the short term with Mullah Haibatullah,” Cleveland affirmed.
The new US Commander in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, is expected to soon finish his 90 day review of the situation which should play a role in determining the level of US troops that will remain in the country.
“He is literally finishing it this week as we speak, and he is presenting it to his military chain of command,” said Cleveland.
Nicholson plans to keep the findings in his report classified so he can have “frank discussions with his military leadership,” affirmed the spokesperson.
There are currently 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan which is expected to drop by several thousand by the end of the year. (end) ak.ibi