WASHINGTON — A day after President Barack Obama's senior defense advisers huddled in Europe to discuss the future of the war in Afghanistan, the State Department on Monday talked optimistically about the conflict that top generals have called a stalemate.
"We believe that this is a struggle that we are now, you know . . . we have turned a tide," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. "We're seeing success in Afghanistan, difficult as it is."
Crowley's remark came in response to a question about al-Qaida, the terror network whose shelter in Afghanistan prompted the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Crowley said later he is "not trying to minimize the complexity" of eventual success in Afghanistan.
"We feel that we have taken the initiative. We are adding resources into Afghanistan, we are moving into places where we have not had sufficient military forces or civilians before," he said, noting also that the country is preparing to organize elections on its own.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, flew Saturday to an U.S. air base in Chievres, Belgium, and met Sunday with several advisers, including Gen. David Petraeus, who has overall responsibility for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Gates and Mullen were given an interim report on security in Afghanistan.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal is putting together an assessment of the war that may include a request for additional U.S. forces and resources.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell would not detail the discussion, including whether McChrystal is contemplating the politically troublesome request to add more American soldiers. McChrystal's study is due this month.