Camp leatherneck: Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday that US Marines have got the upper hand on the Taliban in Helmand, one of the fiercest battlegrounds in Afghanistan.
"The Marines, since arriving a year ago last summer, have
really been in the fight and I think have not just... stopped
the momentum of the Taliban but in a lot of places reversed it
as well," Gates told members of the 1st Marine Logistics Group
at Camp Leatherneck.
"You are making a difference," he told the marines.
A US troop surge ordered by President Barack Obama last
December has doubled the number of NATO troops in the southern
province of Helmand, the country`s largest province and the
heartland of the global opium trade.
Gates, who arrived in Afghanistan on Tuesday ahead of a
White House strategy review, said the war effort was "on the
His comments were the latest indication that Obama will
likely stick to his current strategy in Afghanistan, with
nearly 100,000 US troops on the ground.
US and NATO Officials are touting what they call slow but
steady progress in the nine-year war against a Taliban-led
Major General Richard Mills, the overall commander in
Helmand, greeted Gates at the sprawling desert base and told
reporters that Afghan forces were assuming an increasingly
prominent role in some districts.
"Things are progressing along at a very steady and
satisfactory rate," Mills said.
He added that "conditions are set in certain parts
of the province right now" for a possible handover to Afghan