Thursday, February 09, 2017

Top U.S. general in Afghanistan said thousands more troops needed for fight against Taliban

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Thursday that he needs several thousand more troops to help Afghan government forces break a stalemate with the Taliban less than a year after President Obama drew down American forces.

Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. told the Senate Armed Services Committee that more troops are needed to help train Afghanistan’s military and police forces as they battle Taliban insurgents, Islamic State militants and other militias.

“We have a shortfall of a few thousand,” he said. He said the troops could come from the United States or other countries in the international coalition in Afghanistan.

President Trump said little about America’s longest war, now in its 16th year, during the campaign last year or since taking office. He has spoken far more often about U.S. military efforts to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, where the militants have steadily lost ground over the last year.

Nicholson, commander of U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan, oversees about 6,300 NATO troops from 38 countries in addition to U.S. troops.

“Our Afghan partners have been sustaining very significant losses,” Nicholson said. “And I'm not sure that's sustainable.”

Nicholson also said Russia was “legitimizing” the Taliban by creating a “false narrative” that the fundamentalist Sunni Muslims insurgents are fighting Islamic State militants, who are also Sunni Muslims, in Afghanistan.

He said Iran continues to arm and fund Shiite Muslim fighters in Afghanistan.

"When we look at Russian and Iranian actions in Afghanistan, I believe that... they're trying to undermine the United States and NATO and prevent this strong partnership that we have with the Afghans in the region," he added. - Latimes

Top U.S. general in Afghanistan said thousands more troops needed for fight against Taliban

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