KABUL (TCA) — Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan John Nicholson has announced a two-year plan to drive back the Taliban and help Afghan security forces take control of at least 80 percent of the country, compared to the less than two-thirds they control now, RFE/RL reports.
General Nicholson said the aim was to drive back the Taliban to less than 10 percent of the nation, an ambitious goal considering the militants are estimated to control or contest about 40 percent of the country.
“This, we believe, is the critical mass necessary to drive the enemy to irrelevance, meaning they’re living in these remote outlying areas, or they reconcile, or they die,” Nicholson told a Pentagon news briefing via video conference from Kabul on November 20.
Nicholson said the goal, if achieved, would give the Kabul government greater legitimacy and would ensure credible general elections in 2018 and a presidential vote in 2019.
Since announcing his new Afghan strategy in August, U.S. President Donald Trump has sent an additional 3,000 troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total number of U.S. troops to about 14,000.
In the meantime, TOLOnews reported on November 20 that Nicholson said a well-planned raid against drug producing facilities was carried out in Helmand on Sunday, November 19, and that for the first time an F-22 bomber was used in combat in Afghanistan.
This targeted a drug producing facility in Helmand. In addition a B52 bomber was also used to target another compound. He said this completely “leveled the compound”.
He said the US forces and NATO will be attacking drug producing and trafficking organizations and told Afghans they will not only stand by the country in the fight against terrorism but will also stand by them in the fight against drugs.