Top Commander in Afghanistan: 'Well Over' 1000 US Advisers Headed to Battlefield

30 Novembre, 2017, 12:44 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Soldiers run to their firing positions during a marksmanship competition as part of the celebration of Marne Week Forward at Bagram Airfield Afghanistan Nov. 16 2017

US operations against these opium factories are meant to cut off funding streams to the militant group which has proven resilient on the battlefield. "They are fighting to defend their revenue streams", he said.

Trump also reportedly wanted to sack Nicholson, but was talked out of it by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, a former commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.

While acknowledging that Pakistanis have "been engaged in a very tough fight against extremism inside their own country", Nicholson said he had not seen any significant changes from Islamabad.

When the plan goes operational next spring, "you're looking at well over 1000 advisors out at any given time" with the Afghans, Nicholson said.

"We will be here until the job is done", he said.

Nicholson said 1,000 US soldiers will be moving deeper in conflict zones next year to "advise" Afghan military units. He said the enemy had more setbacks after targeting Afghan districts this year so by August and September it took another shift: a guerrilla style of warfare with hit-and-run attacks as well as suicide attacks.

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He also said the USA -led coalition would help the Afghan government double the size of its commando force and increase the size and capability of its fledgling air force. He said with the changes and worldwide support the "momentum has shifted in their favor".

Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of the U.S-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, said Islamabad has yet to take action against the Afghan Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan where the group's "senior leadership still resides". If done credibly, Nicholson said, these pressures will enhance the legitimacy of the government in the eyes of the people.

Despite 16 years of war the Taliban continue to control or contest almost 40 percent of the Afghan population, by the general's own figures. The momentum is now with the Afghan Security Forces and the Taliban can not win in the face of the pressures that I outlined. "Their choices are to reconcile, live in irrelevance, or die".

Still, he said the USA military effort is necessary but by itself not sufficient for success in the long run.

Nicholson reiterated that the attacks on the drug labs of the Taliban had inflicted over $10 million financial loss to the group in just three days. And he estimated the overall cost to the drug-trafficking enterprise approached $48 million. So these strikes were just the first step in attacking the Taliban's financial engine, and they will continue.

Like other commanders before him, Nicholson offered an upbeat view of the 16-year-old war, insisting that the fight had "turned the corner" and predicting that the Afghan security forces will expand government control of the population from about 64 percent now to 80 percent over two years.

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