The U.S. Air Force is on track to triple the bombings in Afghanistan this year
The figures were revealed as the White House opened a new front in America’s longest war
As of October 31, the military had dropped 3,554 weapons against the Taliban
WASHINGTON, U.S. - According to new figures revealed by the White House, the U.S. Air Force is said to be on track to triple the number of bombs dropped in Afghanistan this year.
As the U.S. opened a new front in America’s longest war, figures revealed that as of October 31, the military has dropped 3,554 weapons against the Taliban.
The figure is already nearly three times the 1,337 bombs dropped in 2016 and nearly four times as the 947 fired in 2015.
Despite the significant uptick in airstrikes, the Taliban however continues to terrorize a significant portion of Afghan territory below.
According to Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the number of districts controlled by the Taliban was “roughly the same as last year.”
Gen. Nicholson also noted that the Taliban had failed to take control of any cities.
However, Bill Roggio, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of its Long War Journal has disputed that assessment.
Roggio has said that the Taliban controls or contests about 40 percent of Afghanistan — more than twice the area it had in 2015.
On Monday, Nicholson detailed a wave of American airstrikes targeting drug labs under a new strategy aimed at cutting off Taliban funding.
U.S. forces dropped precision bombs, flying B-52s and F-22 stealth fighters, on opium production plants, hitting an industry that the Pentagon believes is worth more than $200 million every year to the Taliban.
Nicholson told reporters in Kabul, “We hit the labs where they turn poppy into heroin. We hit their storage facilities where they keep their final product, where they stockpile their money and their command and control."
Further, Nicholson has set a two-year target of getting the security situation under control, with a goal of 80 percent of the population under the control of the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
He described the figure as a “critical mass” to “drive the enemy to irrelevance.”
He has attributed the security situation to the fact that the U.S. drew down “too far and too fast” and that “we telegraphed to the enemy that we were leaving.”
He said the improving security situation in Iraq and Syria had also allowed a shift in airpower to Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan ambassador to the U.S. has said that American airstrikes have been saving Afghan military lives.
Mohib added that 75,000 Afghan Security Forces had been killed or wounded in 2015 and 2016.
The number was a dramatic rise and came after the U.S. withdrew in 2014.
So far in 2017 however, he added that casualty rates are dropping as Afghans are more on the offensive, attributing the change to their ability to target militants “with much more ease.”
Nicholson said, “We are bracing ourselves for a difficult few months or perhaps year,” as the Taliban try to deflect the new military push in Afghanistan.
He added that they will attack places like urban centers.
As part of the Trump administration’s new South Asia strategy, the Pentagon deployed over 3,000 more troops to the war zone and the move came after the Pentagon, in August, acknowledged that the U.S. military had thousands more troops on the ground in Afghanistan than they had ever reported to the public.
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