Upon taking office, President Donald Trump a�?unleasheda�? the U.S. military on the Islamic State group, giving them free reign to destroy the terrorists wherever they may be found in Iraq and Syria, with an emphasis on destroying their means of revenue and support, particularly oil production.
As part of his revised strategy for defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan, Trump has similarly unleashed the military and tasked them with destroying the groupa��s means of revenue and support, in this case the production and trafficking of opium and heroin, according to the Military Times.
It has long been understood that the Taliban exerted control over the cultivation of the poppy plant across vast swathes of the country, which in turn is produced into opium and further refined into morphine and heroin. It is estimated that the Taliban derives a profit of about $200 million a year via the production and trade of illegal narcotics around the globe.
When Trump announced his new strategy for Afghanistan, he relaxed restrictive rules of engagement for the region put in place by former President Barack Obama a�� such as a mandate that any action taken must be defensive in nature. Instead, he tasked Defense Secretary James Mattis with taking the fight to the enemy instead of waiting for them to come to us.
Mattis delegated this new authority to the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, who has now unleashed the air assets at his disposal to use targeted airstrikes against the Talibana��s primary means of income, the drug trade, according to the Washington Examiner.
a�?These new authorities give me the ability to go after the enemy in ways that I couldna��t before a�� to use airpower in the most effective way, going forward,a�? stated Nicholson from Afghanistan in a teleconference briefing with Pentagon reporters. a�?Wea��re hitting the Taliban where it hurts, which is their finances.a�?
The war in Afghanistan has seen a typical cycle over the years of intense fighting during the spring and summer seasons with a lull during the fall and winter. Those days are now over, as Nicholson intends to keep constant pressure on the group going forward.
That a�?pressurea�? will come in three main forms: Hitting the Taliban as hard as possible on the battlefield using all means available, including overwhelming air support; placing increasing economic pressure on them by targeting their drug production facilities; and putting social pressure on them via upcoming democratic elections, all of which are intended to force them to cease fighting and enter into a a�?reconciliation process.a�?
The use of airpower to target the Talibana��s economic lifeblood a�� opium and heroin a�� is actually being led by the Afghans themselves, who on Sunday used A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to bomb two major drug labs. The U.S. followed by hitting eight other similar targets with B-52 bombers and even an F-22 stealth fighter, which was capable of delivering a small bomb to a specific target without causing widespread collateral damage.
It is thought that, over the course of the next year or two, the constant pressure on the Taliban will reduce their control over large parts of Afghanistan and marginalize them to an extent that theya��ll have no choice but to stop fighting.
a�?Our message to the enemy is that a�?You cannot win the war; ita��s time to lay down your arms and enter into the reconciliation process,’a�? Nicholson explained, according to Department of Defense News.
a�?If they dona��t, theya��re going to be confined to irrelevance as the Afghans expand their control of the country a�� or death,a�? he added.
Nicholson described the Taliban as having increasingly become a a�?narco-insurgencya�? that is largely fueled by the illicit drug trade. However, the group also utilizes illegal mining, kidnapping for ransom and murder as a means to acquire funds as well.
a�?To some extent ita��s fair to say that this movement has evolved into a narco-insurgency so their profits from narcotics now exceed their operating expenses,a�? Nicholson stated. a�?We find that the leadership of the Taliban fight over the money and ita��s often divided along tribal lines.a�?
In years past, our military was essentially handcuffed in Afghanistan, operating under incredibly restrictive rules of engagement that required high level approval from Washington in order to do just about anything.
Those days are over. President Trump a�� through Mattis a�� has granted the military the autonomy it needs to do the job they were assigned 17 years ago: utterly defeat the terrorist-supporting, drug-trading Taliban and bring their barbaric insurgency to its knees.
Please share this story on Facebook and Twitter so everyone can see how President Trump and Defense Sec. Mattis are finally hitting the Taliban where it hurts a�� their drug production.
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