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article imageOp-Ed: U.S. considering sending 3,000 up to 5,000 troops to Afghanistan

By Ken Hanly     May 1, 2017 in World
The Trump administration is considering options that involve sending 3,000 to 5,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan. They would advise Afghan military and police units but also include additional special operations forces.
These special forces would increase counter-terror operations against the Islamic State(IS) fighters who have entrenched positions along the border with Pakistan. America's longest war has hit a stalemate and local security forces have been overwhelmed by rising violence. The situation is less a stalemate rather than a situation where the Taliban are controlling more and more territory. The White House could come to a decision within the coming weeks and announce it at the upcoming NATO security summit scheduled for May 25th in Brussels. Trump has said that he would attend the summit. A senior Afghan defense official told Military TImes that NATO is looking for up to 13,000 troops in all including U.S. and allied personnel. NATO may have difficulty finding countries willing to provide such a large number of troops. In 2014 President Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat operation.
Army Gen. John Nicholson, hopes to increase the number of trained Afghan special forces. These already number 17,000 commandos and have spearheaded operations across the country. They have conducted almost 70 percent of offensive operations with about 80 percent of those done independent of U.S. advisers. However, as the number of U.S. troops increases and their assistance in battle situations also, there will be more U.S. casualties. Two Army Rangers were killed this week and another soldier earlier this month.
Two key Trump administration officials, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently visited the Afghan capital Kabul in April in separate visits. Three hundred U.S. marines have already arrived in the dangerous Helmand Valley. This is their first significant presence in the region since 2014. The Taliban has just announced the start of their Spring offensive. There could soon be casualty reports of US troops. The casualty toll during the winter for Afghan troops was quite high. The U.S. government's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said there was a "shockingly high rate" of casualties over the winter. Between January 1 and February 24 this year there were 807 troops from the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces killed. Just recently a Taliban attack on an Afghan military base killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers. The Taliban have named their 2017 Spring offensive as Operation Mansouri, named in honor of their former leader who was killed by a U.S. drone strike last May in Pakistan.
After sixteen years of a war the US is not even near winning, the Trump administration is going to escalate US involvement. The U.S. will no doubt become more involved in combat situations in an attempt to slow down if not reverse Taliban gains. Trump's campaign pledges to avoid U.S. involvement in wars such as this has been replaced by increased involvement not just in Afghanistan, but in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia as well. The globalist faction led by Jared Kushner seem to have won out over the nationalist and more isolationist faction led by Steve Bannon. The U.S. also recently dropped the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) on a mountainous area of Afghanistan controlled by the Islamic State. A recent article suggests that the damage caused by the bomb is being hyped. There is still conflict with IS fighters in the area with two U.S. troops recently killed. A recent video of the bombed area is appended.
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 DigitalJournal.com
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