- - Wednesday, April 6, 2016

U.S. and NATO efforts to bolster Afghanistan’s nascent military forces is well behind schedule due to increased violence in the country by a resurgent Taliban, according to a top American commander.

“This intense period of combat interfered with the glide slope we were on. The assumptions we made about our timelines, we have to re-look based upon the high casualties they took,” General John Nicholson, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Reuters.

That re-look, according to Nicholson, could force U.S. military leaders to again reconsider the White House’s troop withdrawal plans for Afghanistan.

Nicholson declined to comment on specific timelines or troop figures, but noted his assessment of the country’s fragile security situation would be delivered to Congress by June.

The 9,800-man U.S. force currently in Afghanistan is slated to drop down to 5,500 by 2017, according to the Obama administration’s plan.

But the Taliban’s violent resurgence last year, culminating in the group briefly retaking the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz last September, prompted Nicholson’s predecessor, Gen. John Campbell, to retain the 9,800-man U.S. force in country through 2017.

U.S. and NATO commanders officially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan in December 2014.

Since then, American and allied forces have focused on training and advising indigenous forces in the country.


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