The Obama administration, with less than two weeks left in power, has announced it is sending some 300 Marines to Afghanistan’s Helmand province to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces struggling to push the group out of the top opium-producing Helmand.
“The Marine Corps has a long operational history in Afghanistan, particularly in Helmand Province. Advising and assisting Afghan defense and security forces will assist in preserving gains made together with the Afghans,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Salvin, a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, noting that they will be in the region for nine months after deploying this year.
It will soon be up President-elect Donald Trump to decide how long they will stay.
Moreover, the U.S. Air Force dramatically increased the number of airstrikes it conducted in Afghanistan last year following President Barack Obama’s decision last year to widen the military’s authority to carry out offensive air operations in Afghanistan amid gains made by the Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) affiliate in the country.
The number of bombs dropped in Afghanistan in 2016 rose by around 40 percent to 1,337, according to the undated report from U.S. Air Forces Central Command, notes the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
President Obama’s recent move to increase the number of troops in the country comes less than a week after the commander-in-chief touted in a farewell address to the U.S. armed forces:
Today our forces serve there on a more limited mission—because we must never again allow Afghanistan to be used for a safe haven in attacks against our nation…That’s how we’ve brought most of our troops home—nearly 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan down to 15,000 today.
He also declared a “responsible” end to the U.S. combat mission at the end of 2014.
In July of last year, the President changed course, announcing changes to his plans to draw down the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and deciding to maintain 8,400 troops in the country into 2017. U.S. troops kept being engaged in combat, despite denials by the Obama Pentagon, and the Pentagon later announced the deployment of more troops after the President promised to withdraw them.
He also acknowledged in July that after more than 14 years of war, “the security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious.”
The end of the U.S. combat mission came during one of the deadliest years for the ANDSF.
Within a year after Obama had ended the combat mission, the U.S. Department of State reported that Taliban jihadists had replaced their Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) counterparts as the world’s chief perpetrators of terrorist attacks last year, with 1,093 individual attacks.
Citing the Obama administration, the Washington Post (WaPo) reported in October 2016 that Afghanistan is at an “eroding stalemate” after more than 15 years of war, “tipping in the Taliban’s favor.”
The Taliban now controls more territory in Afghanistan, namely in their historical stronghold of southern Helmand province, than at any time since the terrorist group was dethroned by the United States in 2001.
“Provincial officials estimate the Taliban controls 85 percent of the [Helmand] province, up from just 20 percent a year ago,” reports the Associated Press (AP).
Breitbart News has learned that, to the ire of some U.S. forces on the ground, being a member of the Taliban is not a justification for American troops to fire at the jihadists in Afghanistan, even as the terrorist group expands its reach across the country and security conditions continue to deteriorate, with Afghan troops and civilians suffering record casualties.
Afghan troops and civilians have suffered historic casualties at the hands of the very Taliban that our troops are not allowed to shoot unless they shoot first under the president’s watch. The majority of U.S. military fatalities and injuries have taken place under Obama’s watch.
Opium-rich Helmand province, which the Taliban defends to protect their terrorism funding-producing illegal drug, has been known as one of the deadliest regions for U.S.-led international troops and Afghan troops.
It is located in southern Afghanistan, next to Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban.