Small Wars Journal

U.S. Attacks Taliban’s Source of Funds in Afghanistan

U.S. Attacks Taliban’s Source of Funds in Afghanistan by Michael M. Phillips – Wall Street Journal

KABUL, Afghanistan - The U.S. has retooled its aerial bombing campaign in Afghanistan to target the Taliban’s sources of money, not just its fighters.

Since the strategic bombing campaign began in November, U.S. aircraft have conducted 113 strikes aimed at cutting off revenue the Taliban allegedly receive from opium poppies and roadside taxes, a major shift in war strategy intended to drive the insurgents to the negotiating table.

The strategy is to “go after the Taliban in a way that they had never been pressured before,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch.

The air campaign is modeled on the successful fight waged in recent years against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, where U.S. aircraft regularly attacked refineries, tanker trucks and other infrastructure that provided the militants millions of dollars in oil revenue. It even harks back to World War II, when Allied bombers went after German and Japanese industry.

In a typical recent strike, a pair of F-16s took off from Bagram Air Field and flew south to Helmand province, the heart of Afghan poppy production. The target was a drug lab housed in a mud-walled compound perhaps 100 feet by 100 feet, according to the military.

Once airborne, the lead pilot was able to use electronic sensors to spot buildings and piles of plants in the open yard. Both planes dropped bombs on the compound. “The buildings were completely destroyed,” said the pilot…

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