The top military officer for the U.S. says Afghan security forces have identified key areas of the country that must be secure for elections later this year and have planned a series of military operations to free them from Taliban control.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says holding secure and successful elections for parliament this year and the president next year will be important in determining the success of the new U.S. war strategy approved by President Donald Trump last August.

Dunford is in Afghanistan this week meeting with senior Afghan leaders.

He and other U.S. military officials are sounding less concerned about the exact timing of the parliamentary election, which was initially scheduled for July but could slip until the fall.