USA forces in Afghanistan are building up the Afghan Air Force, along with Afghan special operations forces, to serve as the "offensive capability" for that government to use as the lead in targeting the Taliban, the head of U.S. operations in the Middle East said Tuesday.
He said that United States military commanders have been given the authority needed to use all military power in the country.
"We want the Afghans to lead and provide the substance to the reconciliation effort", Mattis said.
U.S. Army Brigadier General Michael Fenzel, a top coalition official, said he interpreted the Taliban's silence as a positive signal that the Taliban were considering Ghani's offer. "What does that victory look like?"
The head of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan said the Taliban has taken heavy casualties since US President Donald Trump authorized ramped-up air operations past year, pointing to increasingly effective Afghan commando and regular Afghan army units.
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In addition to strengthening these two forces, the USA needs to strengthen the Afghan National Army as a hold force to keep these gains, and to try to make the Afghan police forces "more competent in policing functions", Votel said. "It´s all working to achieve a political reconciliation, not a military victory", Mattis said. Rather, he sees victory coming in the form of political reconciliation.
China has worked with Pakistan and the United States to broker peace talks to end the conflict that has raged since the Taliban were ousted by USA -backed forces in 2001.
"It has forced every actor to re-examine their assumptions".
Within a year (in 2015) after the United States ended its combat operations, the Taliban became the globe's most prolific terrorist group, carrying out more attacks (1,093) than the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), which had reached its peak at the time.
Secretary Mattis emphasized that the recent peace offer does not eliminate the need for offensive operations against the Taliban, and noted the importance of continued Afghan National Defense and Security Forces progress on the battlefield.
Mattis´s surprise Afghan visit, his third as Pentagon chief, was kept under tight wraps after a security incident during his last trip in September, when insurgents shelled Kabul´s airport hours after he arrived.