Top US General: Pakistan Has Yet to Act Against Afghan Taliban

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Top US General: Pakistan Has Yet to Act Against Afghan Taliban

Nicholson said the U.S. Army will produce six security force assistance brigades, who will provide advice and "combat advising at the tactical level".

He also said the US -led coalition would help the Afghan government double the size of its commando force and increase the size and capability of its fledgling air force.

The plan to put advisors in the field grew out of President Donald Trump's August 21 decision to switch to a "conditions-based" strategy in Afghanistan and authorize the deployment of at least 3,000 additional troops, Nicholson said.

Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of the U.S-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, said Islamabad has yet to take action against the Afghan Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan where the group's "senior leadership still resides". He vowed airstrikes by joint U.S.

"Now, looking ahead to 2018, as President Ghani said, he believes we have turned the corner and I agree".

Nicholson also spoke about how the USA has tripled the amount of airpower and munitions dropped so far this year in the 16-year Afghanistan war.

To limit risk, "we're going to great lengths to ensure force protection" with a "whole array of support behind them" to include overhead reconnaissance, ground and air fire support, and medevac availability when they go into the field, Nicholson said. "We will be here until the job is done".

"So they'll go down to the kandak level, the battalion level, which is really where we have operated successfully for the last couple of years with our special forces advisers", Nicholson said.

"Each of these shifts represented to us a lowering of ambitions by the enemy", he said.

He said that next year social and diplomatic pressure will be increased on the Taliban.

"We have been very direct and very clear with the Pakistanis" on curbing the Taliban, Nicholson said, but "we have not seen those changes implemented yet".

"In the face of this pressure, the Taliban can not win. Again, their choices are to reconcile, live in irrelevance, or die", Nicholson said.

Still, he said the USA military effort is necessary but by itself not sufficient for success in the long run.

He also added "And the overall cost to the drug trafficking organizations approached $48 million".

According to Nicholson, airstrikes last week on drug facilities in Taliban-controlled areas in northern Helmand Province have removed between $7 million and $10 million of revenue from the Taliban's wallets.

Nicholson said the Pakistanis have been engaged in a "tough fight" against extremists in their own country and numerous Pakistani Taliban fighters have been displaced by Pakistani military offensives, but he said the Pakistani military has failed to take similar action against the Afghan militant groups on its soil. So these strikes were just the first step in attacking the Taliban's financial engine, and they will continue.

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