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article imageOp-Ed: Two U.S. troops killed and one wounded in Afghanistan

By Ken Hanly     Apr 27, 2017 in World
Pentagon spokesperson, U.S. Navy Captain Jeff Davis confirmed that two U.S. troops had been killed and one wounded in the Achin District of Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan that borders on Pakistan.
The casualties were Special Operations Forces that are targeting Islamic State forces in the area. General Nicholson said: "The fight against ISIS-K is important for the world, but sadly, it is not without sacrifice. On behalf of all US forces and our coalition partners, I offer our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and fellow service members of our fallen comrades." ISIS-K refers to the Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan. The "K" stands for Khorasan province.
The Achin Distrist is the primary base of IS in Afghanistan. There have been many joint Afghan-U.S. missions against the group. Earlier this month another U.S. Special Forces member was killed in fighting in the area. The area is also where the U.S. dropped the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) some days ago. The U.S. has refused to issue its own account of casualties caused by the bomb attack. Afghan officials claim to have counted up to a hundred but there is no independent confirmation. IS media have claimed that none were killed! The blast targeted a series of tunnels and caves used by the IS. Apparently they were originally constructed with the help of the CIA to help jihadists fight an Afghan regime supported by the Soviet Union, the Evil Empire. Security forces so far have kept people out of the blast area and the U.S. has not released further information.
Earlier this month, in the capital Kabul, General Nicholson had said: "We're going to keep going until they're defeated in 2017." An offensive against the group began in 2016 together with Afghan security forces. Nicholson claims that group has lost about half of its fighters and about two thirds of its territory. The U.S. believes that the IS has about 600 to 800 fighters mostly formed from other groups including the Pakistani Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The group claimed responsibility for a recent deadly attack on a hospital in Kabul.
Since the U.S. ceased combat operations and the Afghan government took over combat operations in 2014, U.S. and coalition casualties are less frequent. The U.S., however, has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. Some carry out counter-terrorist actions that are separate from the training and advising missions to train the Afghan army and police force, to fight mainly against the Taliban who have been gaining more territory. Recently they carried out an attack on a military base near the city of Mazar e-Sharif that killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers.
The IS Amaq News Agency said that a joint U.S.-Afghan team was forced to abort a landing in Achin as they came under heavy fire. Helicopters were forced to abandon the mission. However, U.S. aircraft then were said to have launched an intensive bombardment of the area that killed one hundred people mostly women and children. None of this has been independently confirmed. It may be mostly made up propaganda but without further investigation it is impossible to know for sure.
The Trump administration is trying to reverse gains not only of the IS but of the Taliban. The war has now lasted about fifteen years and there is no end in sight. Trump campaigned on a pledge not to get the U.S. involved in costly wars that they appear unable to win. Yet his actions have been to have the U.S. become more involved in areas such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. Such policies are bound over time to result in more US casualties. Anonymous Trump administration officials claim the government is carrying out a review and discussions on Afghanistan have revolved around adding 3,000 to 5,000 more troops. In February General Nicholson, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan said he needed several more thousand troops to break a stalemate with the Taliban.
Since the beginning of the war in 2001, more than 2,300 Americans have been killed and over 17,000 wounded. Some observers say the situation is so bad that the number of troops required to turn the tide let alone create stability and security is beyond what would likely be accepted politically. Christine Wormuth, former undersecretary of defense in the Obama government said: "Before you can get to the question of how many troops is enough you have to have clarity on what is the goal. Is the goal to decisively defeat [the Taliban] and make Afghanistan into a viable state (or) is the goal to continue to prop up the government of Afghanistan?" Trump has yet to set out his policy with respect to Afghanistan. No doubt for now he has many more pressing issues such as what to do in North Korea.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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