The commander of the US forces in Afghanistan said one of their key targets will continue to be Taliban drug labs.
New War Strategy Will be ‘Game Changer’ In Afghanistan
The commander of US forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson has said that over 1,000 US troops will work alongside the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in the country in 2018.
"Well over 1,000 advisors would be out conducting combat operations on the front lines during next year's fighting season,” said Nicholson.
He said that next year social and diplomatic pressure will be increased on the Taliban.
"The Taliban can not win in the face of pressures that I outlined", Nicholson said. "Their choices are to reconcile, live in irrelevance, or die".
According to the US general, US forces will also undertake joint operations with the Afghan Special Forces against Daesh outfits in Jawozjan and Faryab provinces.
He said that the top leaders of the Taliban and its brutal outfit the Haqqani network are operating from Pakistan, adding that the Taliban can decide on a number of options - either they should join the peace process or get killed or isolated.
Calling President Donald Trump’s new strategy "a game changer," Nicholson said: "That's why I express confidence that we are on our way to a win."
"There will be greater risk. Absolutely," he said, noting that they will be backed by a full array of air support and surveillance capabilities.
On the issue of terror hideouts and safe havens in Pakistan, Nicholson said that the expectations are out there.
"The expectations are out there. We have not seen those changes implemented yet and we are hoping … to work together with the Pakistanis going forward to eliminate terrorists who are crossing the Durand Line," Nicholson said.
Nicholson reiterated that the attacks on the drug labs of the Taliban had inflicted over $10 million financial loss to the group in just three days.
"In just over three days' worth of operations, the Afghan 215th Corps, their special forces commandos, their air force, in close cooperation with U.S. forces, removed between $7 million and $10 million of revenue from the Taliban's pocketbook," Nicholson said. "And the overall cost to the drug trafficking organizations approached $48 million. So these strikes were just the first step in attacking the Taliban's financial engine, and they will continue."
Nicholson stated that Afghan and coalition officials will apply diplomatic pressure on the enablers of the Taliban and the Haqqani networks, and social pressure will be applied through elections over the next two years. If done credibly, Nicholson said, these pressures will enhance the legitimacy of the government in the eyes of the people.
This comes a few months after Trump unveiled his new war policy involving Afghanistan and South Asia on the basis of which Washington pledged to take more harsh actions against the Taliban insurgents.