In 2013 before anyone knew he would run for the presidency, President Trump had criticized the war in Afghanistan saying it was an enormous waste of blood and treasure. Fast forward to August 2017 and the president took back his words saying decisions are quite different once you are sitting in the president’s seat in the Oval office.
Increased Military Presence
The USA is set to triple the number of bombs it has dropped in Afghanistan in 2017 when compared to 2016. By the end of October, the USA had dropped 3,554 bombs in the war-torn country which is way higher than 1,337 and 947 dropped in 2016 and 2015 respectively. Additionally, the USA has deployed an additional 3,000 soldiers in Afghanistan bringing the total number of soldiers in the country to more than 14,000 soldiers.
New War Strategy
The USA has taken up a new war strategy against the Taliban in Afghanistan. President Trump recently gave Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, new authority, allowing him to attack the Taliban where it hurts most. In the new strategy, the US military will launch a bombing campaign against the Taliban’s opium labs. The Taliban has been financing its activities using cash from the productions and sale of opium. By attacking the drug enterprises in Northern Helmand, the US military is looking to cripple the Taliban financially. Consequently, Gen. Nicholson says this new authority gives him the opportunity to go after the Taliban in a way he was not able to do so before. Gen. Nicholson reports that the Taliban currently controls the same number of districts in Afghanistan it controlled last year.
The Taliban’s Response
The increased military presence and airstrikes is aimed at wiping out the Taliban whose strength is, however, said to have grown. A senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Bill Roggio, says that the Afghan territory under Taliban rule has increased to 40%, which is twice the percentage it controlled in 205. The Taliban through its spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid recently told Al Jazeera that the USA should pull out its soldiers out of Afghanistan otherwise Afghanistan would become another graveyard for US soldiers. The spokesman added that President Trump was wasting American lives on his new war strategy and should instead order his troops out of the country. The Afghan ambassador to the USA, Hamdullah Mohib, has, however, lauded US efforts in getting rid of the Taliban. The ambassador acknowledged that US airstrikes on the Taliban had saved many Afghan military lives, rating the new war strategy as a 10 out of 10.