According to the Commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, there is an urgent need of dispatch of several thousands of US and NATO soldiers to the country.
On February 9, at a meeting of the US Senate, Commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said that there is an urgent need of dispatch of several thousands of US and NATO soldiers to the country. This move will give a chance not to lose the war against the Taliban. The day before, Afghans asked NATO to strengthen air support, without which local military are not able to effectively fight against extremists. According to official US estimates, the Taliban movement already controls more than 40% of the populated territory of Afghanistan.
US military beat the alarm due to a difficult situation, which has developed by now in Afghanistan. At the meeting of the US Senate on February 9, Nicholson bluntly said that he does not have enough forces to fight against the Taliban.
“We have a shortfall of a few thousand,” the Commander said.
According to him, the stalemate situation, in which the government even with support of foreign military is unable to cope with the Taliban and other groups, has developed in Afghanistan by now. He emphasized the high level of casualties among the Afghan security forces and noted that this could lead to collapse of the Afghan Armed Forces. The General proposed to dispatch servicemen from the US and NATO countries to Afghanistan.
It is remarkable that in 2016, at the initiative of then US President Barack Obama, the US reduced its contingent in Afghanistan from 9,600 to 8,400 servicemen. However, the results of 2016 showed the fallacy of this step. According to a report of special inspector general for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, John Sopko, now the Afghan government controls only 57 percent of the populated territory of the country, though in November 2015, this figure was 72 percent.
Nicholson’s great concern is also caused by the ‘dispiriting’ state of the Afghan Air Force, which in 2016, was not able to ensure the timely delivery of cargos and provide full air support to the army and the security forces. Because of this, according to him, the upcoming campaign of 2017 has turned out to be under the threat.
It is noteworthy that the statement of the US military commander practically coincided with the request of the Afghan authorities to provide them more intensive air support. National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar, who visited the headquarters of the North Atlantic Alliance on February 7, appealed to NATO, asking to provide Afghan military and police with uninterrupted air support in order to stop the Taliban’s expansion.
Recently, due to the reduction of the number of US troops in Afghanistan and retargeting of the air forces, deployed in the region, activity of the Taliban has dramatically increased. There are no official data on the number of airstrikes, carried out by the US air power in Afghanistan, but according to estimates of independent monitoring centers, in 2016, the average rate of working of fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles was one-two airstrikes per day. At the same time, in the framework of the Inherent Resolve operation, aimed against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, coalition’s aircraft bombed more than 10 targets per day.