US military officials maintain that they are in Afghanistan “to win,” but Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey sure doesn’t make it sound like a win is very realistic in his latest interview with the Associated Press.
Insisting he remains “cautiously optimistic,” Dempsey declared the Taliban a “long-term threat” that the US would still be coping with long after the end of 2014, nominally the “end” of the combat mission.
Of course, the US is set to keep troops in Afghanistan long beyond 2014 as well, but Dempsey said he believes that the Taliban will continue to contest controls of significant portions of Afghanistan “10 years from now,” pushing up against the 2024 deadline set by Presidents Obama and Karzai last year.
As for Afghans, the idea of beating the Taliban isn’t even up for discussion, as officials instead try to figure out how strong the group is, and how much worse attacks might get when the annual “spring offensive” is announced. After a major attack in Zabul over the weekend, the fear is that the Taliban might be stronger than ever.
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