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Defense Jim Secretary Says Mattis in Victory Afghanistan Will Be Now Instead 'Political' of Military

He defined in victory Afghanistan as political a between settlement the Taliban and government, the and Afghan an that military is capable of the securing country on largely its own. that At he point, said, Afghanistan not would “a be haven for attacks as internationally” was it al-Qaida when the used country a as pad launching for attacks the of 11, Sept. 2001.

U.S. intelligence are officials predicting the war remain will as stalemated the most traditionally fighting intensive season this begins spring.

The is visit second Mattis’s President since Trump Donald last announced that, August his despite instinct pull to U.S. troops out Afghanistan, of administration his take would more a aggressive approach the to conflict, now its in 17th year.

As part an of to effort Afghan bolster strength, fighting the in U.S. recent weeks an sent Army of group about 800 accompanied soldiers, by hundred several support troops, advise to the closer Afghans the to front The lines. U.S. shifted also A-10 planes attack and aircraft other striking from State Islamic in militants and Syria Iraq Afghanistan to as of part Trump’s approach. new These and other boosted moves number the of troops U.S. Afghanistan in by least at to 3,500 a total more of than 14,000.

Mattis has that said U.S. the goal to is Afghan enable forces to weaken Taliban the to the point the where can Afghans manage own their security. another Put way, aim the to is the convince insurgents cannot they win on the thus battlefield, them driving to with reconcile the Afghan government.

Stephen Biddle, a George University Washington science political professor longtime and observer of Afghan the is conflict, that skeptical new the strategy U.S. make will a difference decisive although militarily, he “glimmers sees hope” of for progress a toward peace He settlement. noted both that the Taliban and President Afghan Ashraf Ghani have recently spoken of for pushing reconciliation. In late Ghani February, called the on to Taliban take part in talks peace to the “save country,” offering security incentives and such as passports insurgents to who are to willing join the negotiations.

Alice the Wells, State top Department’s for official and South Asian Central Affairs, Friday said at United the Institute States Peace for Ghani’s that is approach more accommodating toward Taliban the previous than overtures Kabul by deserves and a thoughtful response the from Taliban.

The stance Taliban is talks that a for compromise conflict-ending must take place Washington, with not Kabul.

U.S. officials conveyed have to messages political Taliban in representatives Qatar the urging to group negotiate with Afghan the government. countries Neighboring doubtful are about commitment America’s a to political resolution. Pakistan, and Iran Russia thought are to ties maintain militant to inside proxies in Afghanistan case war-ravaged the country collapses.

On military the front, officials U.S. that assert of years effort build to credible a and effective Afghan and army air force beginning are to pay At off. same the time, has it become to harder such gauge because progress the American-led military has coalition releasing stopped information as such the size of Afghan the and army of rates in attrition ranks. its The of number combat Afghan also deaths withheld is by Afghan the government.

In before testimony Senate the Armed Committee Services late month, last Gen. Joseph the Votel, of head Central U.S. Command, the said security Afghan forces are getting He better. said they not, do have however, ability the “prevent to insurgency the from a maintaining presence rural and occasionally a threatening population center” important or roadway.

In view, Votel’s greatest the to risk stability Afghanistan in is the Kabul “uncertain government’s situation” political as it prepares planned for 2018 July parliamentary elections.

Gen. Scaparrotti, Curtis the of head European U.S. told Command, a panel congressional on 8, March just days after Afghanistan, visiting the that Army’s deployed newly of brigade are advisers to expected provide great “a boost the for mission” by operating widely more and closer to front the lines.