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Pentagon Pushing for More Aggressive Afghan Military in 2018

The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban.The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban.

The commander of US forces in the Middle East wants the Afghan military to follow a new strategy in 2018 he hopes will lead to new gains in the war against the Taliban, Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

US Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel said an increase of Americans to train and advise the Afghan military can help escalate the fight, The Hill reported.

The plan involves exerting pressure on the Taliban during the normally quieter Afghan winter, before launching an offensive against the group in the spring.

The US wants the “focus on offensive operations and we’ll look for a major effort to gain the initiative very quickly as we enter into the fighting season,” Votel told AP.

Gen. John Nicholson, the head of US forces in Afghanistan, said last month that the Pentagon will soon send thousands of additional advisers to aid their Afghan counterparts closer to the front lines.

There are more than 1,000 advisers in the country at any given time, but that “will increase dramatically” in 2018, Nicholson told reporters.

Votel said those advisers will be operating with Afghan units, closer to the front lines, creating greater risk.

The Afghan military must “keep the pressure on all the time and work to gain the upper hand as quickly as we can. So that as we get into this next fighting season we can build on the initiative,” Votel said, according to the AP.

The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban and to also conduct counterterrorism operations against other groups such as al Qaeda and the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

That number includes the roughly 3,000 troops sent to the country after US President Donald Trump announced his new Afghanistan strategy last summer.

 

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