Tuesday, January 12, 2010
"We've been at this for about seven months now and I believe we've made progress," Gen Stanley McChrystal said in an interview with ABC television.
President Barack Obama last month approved Gen McChrystal's request for a major increase in US troops in Afghanistan, ordering 30,000 reinforcements.
The general recounted a recent meeting in the Helmand river valley in the country's south - a former Taliban stronghold - as an example of progress underway.
"When I sit in an area that the Taliban controlled only seven months ago and now you meet with a shura of elders and they describe with considerable optimism the future, you sense the tide is turning," he said.
Gen McChrystal issued a dire warning to Mr Obama in September, saying the Afghan mission could fail without more troops. Early in his presidency Mr Obama sent an additional 21,000 troops. It is these that have already begun to make a difference.
Only 8,000 to 9,000 of the second tranche of 30,000 have begun to arrive in Helmand.
Asked if Nato-led forces were shifting the momentum against Taliban insurgents, the general said: "I believe we're doing it right now.
"I believe we've changed the way we operate in Afghanistan. We've changed some of our structures. I believe we are on the way to convincing the Afghan people that we are here to protect them."
But he said time was short.
"I think that clock is in the minds of the Afghan people, so I do feel that we have got to move quickly to convince them that we can help them build a country," he said.