US Poised to Expand Military Effort Against Taliban in Afghanistan

Katrina Barker
May 10, 2017

"Rather, it's to try to bring about a negotiated end to this conflict".

The U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan is America's longest war.

Even as it moves to the president's desk, the proposal faces resistance from some senior administration officials who fear a repeat of earlier decisions to intensify military efforts that produced only temporary improvements.

The shift in Afghanistan's policy comes at a time when Trump's top team members, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of Defense James Mattis travelled to Afghanistan to discuss their proposals for enhancing United States role in battling a resilient Taliban as well as terror groups, including ISIS.

The plans mark a major reversal of Barack Obama's efforts to drawn down USA troops and avoid getting bogged down in Afghanistan's multi-faceted conflict.

The White House declined to comment.

The US now has around 8,400 soldiers in Afghanistan with about another 5,000 troops from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. Once Trump gives it the go-ahead, the troops are welcome, the Afghan Ministry of Defense told the channel. USA intelligence officials also want more support, calculating that a stronger military presence would assist their intelligence efforts against extremist groups in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan. Because the war in Afghanistan already costs $23 billion each year, some of Trump's advisers are pointing out that McMaster's plan would increase the cost of an already very expensive military operation.

Taliban success in the north, the combat deaths of two Army Rangers in the southeast, renewed cross-border fighting with Pakistan, and a central government in disarray have lent urgency to the request by Army Gen. John Nicholson for thousands more USA troops to be sent to Afghanistan.

"We would welcome any decision by the United States to support Afghan forces in the ongoing battle against terrorism, which threatens us all", Afghanistan's USA ambassador, Hamdullah Mohib, said in a statement.

The Taliban late last month announced the start of its annual spring offensive, which this year has been dubbed "Operation Mansouri" in honor of its slain leader, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, killed in a USA drone strike on Pakistani territory a year ago. Sgt. Rogers, of Bloomington, Illinois, and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, of Kettering, Ohio, were U.S. Army soldiers killed while conducting a joint U.S.

Heavy fighting has been underway for days around Kunduz, a city that the Taliban have twice come close to capturing in recent years, and government reinforcements included Special Forces units rushed to the province to bolster defences. The U.S. would then backfill those numbers to reach the levels senior commanders want.

The Taliban frequently launches attacks, generally targeting Afghan troops, global troops and government officials.

It is unclear whether the president will support the plan.

While the proposed strategy counters Obama's attempts to leave a mere 1,000 troops in Afghanistan by the time he left office-an endeavor he ended up having to slow-it has the support of the Afghan government. The new rules would also enable USA military advisers to accompany conventional Afghan forces closer to the front lines, similar to the freedom they enjoy with elite Afghan forces in a separate counterterrorism mission.

Similar measures proposed a year ago by the outgoing USA military commander for Afghanistan provoked a backlash among top Pentagon leaders, but this time military leaders including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are supportive.

Mattis said the key to turning around the war in Afghanistan was shoring up the stability of the government of President Ashraf Ghani while accelerating a military campaign meant to drive the Taliban to peace negotiations.

Officials say this is a problem Defense Secretary Jim Mattis plans to remedy as soon as possible.

The Labour leader said "at the end of the day wars are not solved by the presence of foreign troops" as he called for a political solution to the violence in the war-torn nation, while vowing to "look at" any request.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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