KABUL — The top US commander in Afghanistan has said American and Afghan forces have “turned the corner” in their ongoing circular reasoning fight, sources confirmed today.
“We’ve been in Afghanistan for 16 years, and it’s been a long, tough fight,” Gen. John Nicholson told reporters. “Which means we’re going to win this thing. You can tell we have definitely turned the corner.”
Nicholson, 60, has been in command of US Forces Afghanistan since March 2016, after taking over for Gen. John Campbell, who noted in 2016 that there were still threats in Afghanistan that would require US forces to stay.
“For me, it’s about solidifying the gains that the Afghans have made over the last 14 years,” Campbell told Brookings in 2015. “And ensuring that we have a stable Afghanistan for Central Asia and the region going forward.”
Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of Central Command, also said the Afghans needed to solidify the gains in 2016. One defense official noted, however, that the Afghans have solidified the gains so many times over the past few years that there are rumors they have been taking performance enhancing drugs.
Still, Nicholson is hopeful, he told reporters, that “we are on our way to a win” in Afghanistan, echoing a similar point made by Gen. David Petraeus in 2010, Gen. John Allen in 2013, and Gen. John Campbell in 2014.
Nicholson is widely believed to be in contention for a seat on the board of directors of NASCAR, where he could potentially join other fans of turning corners, to include former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
“Look, I don’t want to sugarcoat this. There are challenges ahead. But the American military has never lost a war,” Nicholson said. “So we are never going to lose a war.”