Small Wars Journal

Afghanistan Operations Could Hit 22 Years; Airstrikes Continue to Climb this Month, Highest this Decade

DoD: Afghanistan Operations Could Hit 22 Years - But Don’t Call it a Permanent Presence by Tara Copp - Military Times

U.S. operations in Afghanistan, now in their 17th year, should not be seen as a permanent U.S. presence there, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford said Tuesday.

But Mattis said he wasn’t sure U.S. forces would be gone five years from now, either.

“Would we still have troops in Afghanistan five years from now? I can’t give you the answer to that," Mattis said. “We have to wait and see what the situation is, because it’ll be situationally dependent.”

The U.S. is planning to welcome its 17th commander for Afghanistan in a change-of-command ceremony in Kabul this weekend. Army Lt. Gen. Scott Miller will assume command from outgoing Army Gen. John Nicholson, who has led the effort in Afghanistan since spring 2016.

Like Nicholson, Miller will be charged with overseeing the approximately 23,000 U.S. and NATO forces now operating in Afghanistan, and their now more than a decade-long mission to stabilize the country, build up its security forces and challenge cyclical increases in Taliban offensives…

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U.S. Airstrikes in Afghanistan Continue to Climb this Month, Highest this Decade by Kyle Rempfer - Air Force Times

Airstrikes in Afghanistan are reaching historically high numbers.

Following a three-day cease-fire in June, U.S. aircraft continued to pound Taliban positions across Afghanistan to convince the insurgent force that negotiating with the Afghan government is their only option, according to a press release and statistics provided by U.S. Air Forces Central Command this month.

For July, strike metrics saw highs across the board as the result of a surge in operations post-ceasefire, according to AFCENT.

“The U.S. flew 749 strike sorties, 88 of which included a weapons release. Both are monthly highs this year," according to the AFCENT press release accompanying the monthly statistics. "Also, the U.S. employed 746 weapons in July, the highest monthly total since November 2010.”

The total number of weapons released this year, which includes both manned and unmanned platforms, tops out at 3,714. That number is higher than every year’s total going back to 2013, with the exception of 2017. However, given that last year’s number of weapon releases was 4,361, and each month anywhere from 300 to 700 weapons are dropped, this year is likely to top 2017 as well…

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