BRUSSELS (AP) -- NATO's top military officer remains "cautiously optimistic" of progress in the war in Afghanistan.
Danish Gen. Knud Bartels says Afghan security forces are becoming increasingly more effective in their fight against insurgents. He says, "Despite a number of tactical challenges in recent times, we remain cautiously optimistic that our plan is on track."
Bartels says this month alone nearly 100 Afghan soldiers and policemen have been killed in action, as well as 30 NATO service members.
Since the beginning of the year, insurgents have launched a series of coordinated strikes in Kabul and several eastern cities, underscoring their ability to penetrate heavily guarded areas of the capital.
Yet, coalition forces in Afghanistan already have started a draw down from a peak of 140,000 troops last year. Most are set to leave by the end of 2014.