In April US drops 460 bombs or missiles on Afgfhanistan

American warplanes in April dropped more weapons on Afghanistan than in any single month since 2012. The increase in use of air power is in part due to an effort by the US to wipe out the Islamic State(IS) presence in Afghanistan.

The IS is mainly in an eastern province near the border but has carried out terror attacks further afield. The US wants to wipe the group out if possible. Attacks by the US included dropping the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) on their hideouts in the mountains near the border. However, there are still clashes with the group in the area.
The US dropped 460 bombs, missiles, or other ordnance in April. This is more than twice the 203 weapons that were dropped during the month of March. It is more than seven times what were dropped during April of last year. Trump is currently still considering a proposal from his top military advisers that would have him send another 3,000 to 5,000 troops to Afghanistan. At present there are about 8,4000 together with 6,500 coalition troops in Afghanistan most of whom are there to train and support Afghan security forces. However, some US special forces are engaged in anti-terror attacks. The additional troops could also help increase air support as defense of Afghan positions often relies on trained air controllers on the ground.
The last time when more weapons were dropped in August of 2012 there were 80,000 US troops still in Afghanistan in a combat role. The total number of weapons released this year to the end of April were 917. In all of 2016 there were 1,337 and in 2015 the first year of the non-combat mission there were 947. US military spokesperson Captain Bill Salvin said of the increased activity: "The two main reasons are this is the first spring fighting season since the expanded authorities were granted. And General Nicholson has stated the goal to eliminate ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017, which has required more offensive operations and strategic effects support."
The reported number did not include strikes by the US army attack helicopters. However, Salvin said that in all US forces had conducted 898 "kinetic strikes" in the first four months of 2017 compared to less than 300 in the same period of 2016. The number of counter-terrorism strikes had also increased to 92 compared with just 55 in March. There were 296 strikes designed to support Afghan forces in April as compared with just 115 in March. There were also 62 times US aircraft went to provide "strategic effects" for Afghan forces compared to only 6 times in March. The increased activity has resulted in increased reports of civilian deaths. During the first quarter of 2017, 72 civilians were killed as well as 76 wounded by aerial operations an increase from only 8 dead and 21 wounded during the same period last year. according to the UN.
There appears to be division within the Trump administration with some reluctant to spend more money and send more troops into a war that has lasted 16 years and which there is little chance of winning even with more troops. One alternative would be to try and do more with those troops that are in the country now. The Afghan forces are suffering multiple casualties and setbacks.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, told reporters that the Trump administration's policy review on Afghanistan is still a work in progress and that it could be another two weeks at least before something would be presented to Trump. A Bloomberg article notes: " One option Trump is weighing would add 5,000 troops. But that could increase military casualties without long-term gains in a country that has stymied foreign militaries dating back at least to the British occupation of the 1800s." Another commentator Dan Feldman who is a former State Department special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan said: “We’ll have a small fraction of the total troop strength we had at their apex a few years ago, close to 100,000 U.S. troops and 140,000 total international forces. If that didn’t achieve stability in Afghanistan, how will this modest increase help break the stalemate?"
An anonymous UK official said that his country would contribute more troops to a non-combat effort. Overall numbers to be sent will be discussed in another NATO meeting in June according to the official. It appears that any increased numbers approved are unlikely to be enough to defeat the Taliban.


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