By Debbie Gregory.
Officials have said that some 3,000 to 5,000 extra troops, including hundreds of Special Operations forces, could be deployed to Afghanistan. Their mission? To stop the Taliban. But instead of hoping to beat the Taliban on the battlefield, the aim would be to negotiate an end to the conflict.
The Pentagon has previously announced plans to expand U.S. military operations in Afghanistan by at least several thousand additional troops, but that number will depend on how many troops NATO partners are willing to commit.
President Trump is scheduled to meet with those partners at the NATO summit in Brussels on May 25th.
There are currently 8,400 American boots on the ground deployed to Afghanistan. NATO partners contribute 4,900 more.
Special Operations troops are waging a direct campaign against the Islamic State’s local affiliate, known as ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K) but the bulk of the forces are focused on training and advising Afghan troops.
However, a raid that took place on April 27th killed Sheikh Abdul Hasib, the emir of ISIS-K, as well as other leading ISIS-K members and 35 ISIS-K fighters
“This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat ISIS-K in 2017,” said General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “This is the second ISIS-K emir we have killed in nine months, along with dozens of their leaders and hundreds of their fighters. For more than two years, ISIS-K has waged a barbaric campaign of death, torture and violence against the Afghan people, especially those in southern Nangarhar.”
Gen. Nicholson has been pushing for increased troop levels since February, but his request took a back seat to a broader administration review of Afghan policy and a push for NATO to contribute more troops.