US defence chief lands in Afghanistan for meetings

US defence chief lands in Afghanistan for meetings

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates (L) talks with US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry (C) as he arrives in Kabul on Monday. AFP

Gates said the offensive that began last month is encouraging, but he stopped short ofsaying the success in Marjah suggests that the war is at a turning point. The Marjah campaign routed most Taliban fighters from a town they once controlled, without a high casualty toll for US troops and the Afghan security forces fighting alongside them.
Despite what he called positive signs, Gates cautioned against optimism.

"People still need to understand there is some very hard fighting, very hard days ahead," Gates told reporters traveling with him for the unannounced visit.During his visit, Gates is scheduled to meet with his top military commanders and senior Afghan officials.

"The early signs are encouraging but I worry that people will get too impatient and think things are better than they actually are," Gates said.The war is now in its ninth year and unpopular with a majority of Americans.

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