US official feels substantial progress has been made in Afghanistan

Kabul, Oct. 29 (ANI): U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn has said that there has been "substantial progress" in the Afghan campaign.

Endorsing optimistic reports from Kabul-based commanders in the U.S.-led coalition, Lynn said that the recent offensives in Helmand and Kandahar have inflicted damage on the Taliban.

"We've checked their momentum. Whether it's reversed-we're in the midst of seeing whether we can reverse that momentum now," the Wall Street Journal quoted Lynn, as saying.

Lynn's visit to Kabul and Helmand comes ahead of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Portugal next month that will discuss the unpopular war's future, amid growing pressure by European allies to start pulling out troops.

In December, the Obama administration is scheduled to hold its own review of whether the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, backed up by 30,000 additional troops deployed this year, is producing results.

All administration officials haven't shared recent upbeat assessments by the coalition's commander, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, with critics pointing out that Taliban attacks and allied casualties continue to rise, and that Taliban-led insurgents appear to have created new strongholds in previously safe parts of the country.

Since succeeding Gen. Stanley McChrystal as coalition commander in June, Gen. Petraeus has dramatically ramped up Special Operations raids and air strikes on Taliban leaders.

This shift has prompted some coalition officers to wonder whether the population-centric counterinsurgency mission of protecting Afghan civilians is being replaced by the traditional, enemy-centric focus on killing as many insurgents as possible.

Lynn said both approaches needed to be employed in concert. (ANI)

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