by Jason Ditz

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg today rejected the idea of the alliance resuming direct combat operations in occupied Afghanistan, conceding that 2016 was going to be “a difficult year” for the nation but insisting the Afghan military was capable of handling the situation themselves.

Stoltenberg’s comments come in the wake of some significant losses by the Afghan military, and the US sending ground troops to the front lines in Helmand. It also comes just hours after a story broke of the previous US commander of the occupation, Gen. John Campbell, pushing the White House for a resumption of offensive operations.

Stoltenberg instead urged the Afghan government to focus on implementing reforms meant to tackle corruption, saying that government reform was the “key deliverable” they want by the next summit.

Not losing more territory to the Taliban seems to be a secondary goal, but the two do ultimately go hand in hand, with widespread corruption in the Afghan military a huge problem for security forces, and with roughly 40% of the Afghan military existing only on some bureaucrat’s ledger, the Taliban is tending to find undermanned checkpoints wherever it goes.