U.S. special operators have conducted thousands of missions in Afghanistan over the last six months.
Those missions, numbering more than 2,000, have consisted of either enabling or advising Afghan forces, according to a report the Pentagon recently provided to Congress called “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” Military Times reports.
Previous reports did not include the number of kinetic missions, but this new one notes that from June 1 to Nov. 24, U.S. special forces were involved in 2,175 ground missions and 261 kinetic strikes.
“These operations included 420 ground operations and 214 air strikes against ISIS-K [the Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan], resulting in more than 174 ISIS-K killed-in-action; 1644 ground operations and 181 air strikes against the Taliban, resulting in 220 Taliban KIA; 68 ground operations and 28 air strikes against members of the Haqqani Network, resulting in 34 Haqqani KIA; and 43 ground operations against other insurgent networks, resulting in 36 enemy KIA,” the report states.
The report also notes the fighting in the past few months has been more successful than earlier in the year, as the Taliban lost control of several important districts.
“During this reporting period [June 1, 2017, to Nov. 30], the Taliban was unable to threaten any provincial centers, lost control of key districts, and the ANDSF retained control of all major population centers,” the report noted.
One of the key changes in the U.S. view towards Afghanistan under President Donald Trump’s administration has been the adoption of a conditions-based approach, compared to a time-based approach, that focused on when U.S. forces would withdraw from Afghanistan. The new conditions-based approach now calls for the war to end “in a comprehensive, Afghan-led political settlement that will include all parties, including the Taliban.”
Army Gen. John Nicholson, top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in late November the war has “turned a corner,” though previous military officials have been too premature in making such bold claims, as progress in the past has been accompanied by disastrous rollbacks. Given the recent troop surge, the U.S. has 14,000 service members in Afghanistan.
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