This week, President Donald Trump promised a troop surge in Afghanistan to break the back of the Taliban in the region and perhaps put an end to the longest war in American history. Just days later, he made good on that promise. At the same time, the U.S. military delivered an epic ultimatum to terrorists in the region.
On Thursday, Gen. John W. Nicholson called the Taliban “the enemies of the world” and vowed that they would never win the war. He pledged that the United States will continue to support Afghan Security Forces against the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and their allies.
Nicholson then directly addressed the Taliban’s future under the new surge of U.S. support. He mentioned the use of Afghan special forces, which have been trained by U.S. forces. The special forces have never lost a combat engagement, Nicholson said. He then forcefully restated that the Taliban had never beaten the special forces, and “they never will.”
He discussed an expansion of the Afghan Air Force, that will partner with U.S. forces to increase strikes on enemy targets. Nicholson said that together, Afghan and American forces will hunt down ISIS groups, “and we will annihilate them.”
Days after President Trump’s announcement of a new strategy for Afghanistan, the top American officials in Kabul said Thursday that a promised increase in United States military personnel and air power was already underway in the country.
At a news conference in the Afghan capital, the military commander for United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, said that the influx of new troops — mostly trainers for the Afghan security forces — would continue over the next few months.
He did not provide details on the number of troops, and he emphasized that American forces would remain in Afghanistan with no prestated timeline for withdrawal. Previous reports have suggested that the increase, which Mr. Trump has put in the hands of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a former Marine general, would amount to around 4,000 additional American troops.
They would be joining an American force that officially totals about 8,400, but that the Pentagon recently acknowledged to The Wall Street Journal is closer to 12,000. More than 4,000 troops from other NATO countries are also said to be in Afghanistan.
“There will be additional capabilities, some of that is already arriving,” General Nicholson said. “But we are not going to talk about the specific numbers. We are not going to telegraph to the enemy what it is we are going to do and how we are going to influence the battlefield.”
General Nicholson said that air support to the Afghan forces would also be ramping up. That support has already been extensive in a year of major territorial gains for the Taliban insurgency. The United States Air Force reported dropping about 1,250 bombs and other ordnance in the first seven months of this year, almost twice as many as in the same period last year.
At the same news conference, the top American diplomat in Afghanistan, Hugo Llorens, said that the new commitment was a message to the Taliban that negotiation would be the only way out of the war.
“The Taliban has a choice: they can continue to kill fellow Afghans and terrorize communities in a conflict they have no possibility of winning,” Mr. Llorens said. “Or they can seek reconciliation and put an end to the war.”
Here is video of Gen Nicholson’s statement.
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