US commander General Votel wants aggressive Afghan push in 2018

The top United States (US) commander for the Middle East wants a more aggressive Afghan military pressuring Taliban and other insurgents in war-torn Afghanistan during this winter, and then quickly going on the offensive in the spring. It is all part of a plan the US hopes will change the course of a war now entering its 17th year.

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

Trump’s Afghan strategy: new course or repeating history?

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

General Votel said in an interview that the US seeks 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,”

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 offensive attacks against the Taliban and an emerging Islamic State (IS) affiliate.

White House to announce ‘specific actions’ against Pakistan within days

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 stabilise the country or snuff out extremist groups operating from Afghan territory.

Afghanistan appears to be high on US President Donald Trump’s agenda in 2018. A major focus of Trump’s Afghanistan strategy is to persuade Pakistan to eliminate alleged safe havens for the Taliban and other fighters.

This story originally appeared on the VOA.

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