US commander shows confidence in Afghan forces
The assassination of Afghan leaders in Kandahar province won’t lessen U.S. support for the war in Afghanistan or deter local security forces in the fight against the Taliban, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East said Saturday.
Gen. Joseph Votel said the U.S. was “pretty confident that the Afghans will be able to maintain the situation down” in Kanda- har.
The Taliban said Thursday’s attack, which killed an influential police chief, targeted the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. But U.S. military officials have said Army Gen. Scott Miller was not in the line of fire, and he escaped unharmed.
The attack just before Saturday’s parliamentary elections was as a stark reminder of the formidable task the Trump administration faces as it tries to extricate America from its longest war.
Votel expressed confidence in the ability of the Afghan forces to provide security for the election and into the future.
“My assessment is the Afghans are resilient to this,” he said. “I don’t consider it to be something that will change the security situation.”
The Kandahar shooting, he said, won’t diminish “our will or on us going forward.”
Votel’s comment to reporters traveling with him at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar echoed the sentiment expressed by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday.
“We remain absolutely committed to an Afghanled Afghan reconciliation,” Mattis told reporters Friday at an Asian security conference in Singapore.