January 4, 2018

A top US commander wants to launch a more aggressive military strategy to pressurize the Taliban and other insurgent’s groups, according to reports.

The top US commander for the Middle East, Gen. Joseph Votel wants a more aggressive strategy to pressurize Taliban and other insurgents over the normally quieter months of Afghanistan’s winter.

He then plans a quick offensive in the spring, according to a US Time magazine report. It’s all part of a plan the United States hopes will change the course of a war now entering its 17th year, it said.

Votel said an influx of new American trainers can help escalate the fight. They will be operating with Afghan units, closer to the front lines and at greater risk. US commanders will ensure American and allied forces have adequate protection.

The goal is to get the Afghan military moving on its military campaign sooner, rather than later.

The US wants the “focus on offensive operations and we’ll look for a major effort to gain the initiative very quickly as we enter into the fighting season,” Votel said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

Afghan forces must “keep the pressure on all the time and work to gain the upper hand as quickly as we can. So that as we get into this next fighting season we can build on the initiative,” he said.

The Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy gives the US military greater authority to launch attacks against a resilient Taliban and an emerging Daesh affiliate.

The plan, announced in August, was designed to reverse a stalemate in America’s longest war. It specifically eliminates the Obama administration’s scheduled plan to withdraw US forces but includes no dramatic changes in an approach that has failed to stabilize the country or snuff out extremist groups operating from Afghan territory.

As 2018 begins, Afghanistan appears to be high on President Donald Trump’s agenda. On New Year’s Day, he slammed Afghanistan’s neighbor Pakistan in a tweet for “lies and deceit,” accusing the country of playing US leaders for “fools” by not crushing militants in its territory.

 A major focus of Trump’s Afghanistan strategy is to persuade Pakistan to eliminate havens for the Taliban and other fighters.

This piece originally appeared in ToloNews on January 4, 2018. Original link.

Disclaimer: Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily endorsed or supported by the Center for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad.

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