Winning – ISIS in Syria and Iraq has no land, US planes are shifting to Afghanistan, Taliban has asked for peace talks

President Trump has delegated more authority to the US military. The US has pushed the Taliban back from several district centers and two provincial capitals.

Col. Stephen “Joker” Jones is commander of the 451st Air Expeditionary Group, in charge of the airfield at Kandahar and all Air Force flying operations in Afghanistan.

The US military chain of command are convinced that President Donald Trump’s new “South Asia strategy” can work.

Here’s why: Up to now, as senior U.S. military leaders in Afghanistan see things, they’ve never really had the chance to win. As they see it, past years have brought only fits and starts on the battlefield and in the Situation Room, troop surges that won hard-fought gains and drawdowns that gave them up again, early overestimations of Afghan capabilities and more recent failures to build on successes. But now, they say, they have the strongest and most capable Afghan force they’ve worked with, led by a combat-seasoned generation of Afghan senior officers and NCOs. And they say that Trump’s plan gives them permission to wage a sustained, offensive air and ground campaign against what’s left of the Taliban. Afghanistan, they believe, finally has a chance to win.

Afghanistan’s corruption remains a top problem. Another concern is ensuring that economic progress matches up with security progress.

The Afghanistan Taliban has just released a letter that says they wanted to end the 17-year conflict through peace talks with President Donald Trump. The letter also warned that the pacifist tack shouldn’t be perceived as a sign of weakness and its fight against the U.S. troops in Afghanistan will persist until they leave the premises.

The leash is off [the US military]. Since 2014, when President Barack Obama declared the end of combat operations, the U.S. military basically has been restricted to defending against Taliban attacks. No more. The coalition has new U.S. attack planes, ground groups, a target list, and the authorities to strike them.

“This is all part of our overarching strategy to continue to put pressure on the Taliban until they realize they’ve basically got a binary choice: they can negotiate and reconcile, or live in irrelevance and die,” said Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch, who directs future operations at Resolute Support headquarters and is the lead for the strategic air campaign. “We’ll continue to go until the Taliban reconcile.”

… even more aircraft are arriving from the ISIS war in Iraq and Syria: JSTARS, Rivet Joints, and tankers flying from al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

Air strikes are already underway targeting the Taliban’s financial and drug networks, just as the anti-ISIS campaign targeted oil production, banks, and cash stores in Iraq and Syria.

In Afghanistan, there are 400 to 500 suspected drug labs.

US Military Operations in 2018

February 6, 2018 press release: United States Forces-Afghanistan launched a series of precision strikes in Northern Afghanistan in a direct effort to destroy insurgent revenue sources, training facilities, and support networks.

Over the past 96 hours, U.S. forces conducted air operations to strike Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan by such organizations as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and others. The strikes also destroyed stolen Afghan National Army vehicles that were in the process of being converted to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.

During these strikes, a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress dropped 24 precision guided munitions on Taliban fighting positions, setting a record of the most guided munitions ever dropped from a B-52. The aircraft has played a leading role in Air Force operations for decades, and was recently reconfigured with a conventional rotary launcher to increase its reach and lethality.