U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates today said U.S. Marines have reversed Taliban gains in one of the toughest battlefields in southern Afghanistan.
Gates, speaking at the Camp Leatherneck U.S. base in Helmand Province, said that the Marines have been "making a difference" since arriving in the region in the summer of 2009.
"Progress, even just in the last few months, has exceeded my expectations," he said. "The Taliban control far less territory then they did when I spoke here one year ago. And as a result more and more Afghan people are able to live without being terrorized and are instead focusing on achieving a better life for themselves and their families."
Gates, however, said the nine-year insurgency is far from defeated. He was speaking ahead of a White House review of a 30,000-strong troop surge approved by U.S. President Barack Obama in November 2009.
There are nearly 100,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, another two NATO troops were killed in the south today, taking to 682 the number of foreign troops killed in 2010. It is the deadliest year for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan.
compiled from agency reports