20 January 2018

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Pentagon To Send More Drones, Troops To Afghanistan: Report

Written by  Manager2
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Friday January 12, 2018
Kabul (BNA) The Pentagon is planning to send more armed drones and roughly 1,000 new combat advisers to Afghanistan, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
U.S. and military officials told the paper the move is meant to bolster the American military presence in Afghanistan in time for spring, when the traditional fighting season begins.
As soon as February, the Pentagon will send members of an Army security-force assistance brigade from Fort Benning, Ga., to work as combat advisers to Afghan National Security Forces.
The larger fleet of drones, both armed and unarmed, will provide air support and will also be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
In addition, the Pentagon plans to add more helicopters, ground vehicles, artillery and other equipment. The Defense Department (DOD) is able to do so because of reduced combat operations in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
President Trump announced in August a new plan for Afghanistan that includes sending 3,000 to 4,000 additional troops to the country to help end the stalemate there. The extra forces brings the number of American personnel in the country to about 14,000.
The increase in security-force assistance troops may move the needle past 14,000, but there is the chance the Pentagon could at the same time withdraw another unit.
Gen. John Nicholson, the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told reporters last month that more advisers would aid their Afghan counterparts, but did not give a number.
There are “well over 1,000 advisers out at any given time,” but in 2018 “this will increase dramatically,” Nicholson said.
The increase stems from a request from Defense Secretary James Mattisthat Army Gen. Joseph Votel, chief of the U.S. Central Command, come up with ways to rethink military capabilities in the countries, The Wall Street Journal wrote.
Mattis didn’t put a deadline on drawing down resources from Central Command.
As ISIS loses more ground in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon has been able to shift some resources east to Afghanistan. Military planners want to reduce the number of ground troops in Iraq and Syria over the next year.
But Pentagon officials plan to be careful in moving forces out of the two countries, as they hope to prevent ISIS or other extremist groups from re-emerging.
The U.S. forces still there would focus on counterterrorism operations and security for diplomats and contractors. There are currently more than 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria, according to the Pentagon.
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