Trump unleashes air power against Taliban

Military Times:
When Air Force planes conducted an airstrike that killed Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Salam in Kunduz province Feb. 26, a joint operation with Afghan security forces, it marked the first salvo in a renewed strategy by U.S. forces to remove Taliban commanders from the battlefield.

“Mullah Salam and the Taliban fighters under him murdered and terrorized the people of Kunduz for too long,” said Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan. “Salam’s death is an opportunity for change. The people of Afghanistan want peace and the government of Afghanistan is committed to achieving peace through reconciliation. The Taliban know the only path forward is reconciliation."

But, as noted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies's Long War Journal, any talk of reconciliation was quickly countered by a spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on the group's website:

"The Islamic Emirate — as a representative of the Mujahid Afghan nation and martyrdom-loving people of Kunduz — in response to the irrational comments of General Nicholson declares that you do not have the capacity to talk to the Mujahideen because you are invaders and you understand well that the valiant Afghan nation has always treated invaders such that their brains are first put in order then forced them out of their country in humiliation."

The city of Kunduz, home to roughly 400,000 people, has become a microcosm of America’s struggle to stabilize Afghanistan.

Twice in the past two years the northern Afghan city has fallen to Taliban militants, in part due to corrupt politics and failed policies. Afghan security forces and their American counterparts have yet to tame the city, casting shadow on Washington’s continued claim that government forces can maintain control of the country's urban centers.
...
The airstrike that killed Mullah Salam closed one deadly chapter in the war in Afghanistan and opened another under the Trump administration, with a renewed effort by U.S. forces to target Taliban leadership, a dramatic change in strategy from Trump's predecessor.

The Obama administration focused much of its efforts in recent years pushing reconciliation between the Taliban and the central government of Afghanistan. It made a concerted effort to kill high profile al-Qaida and Haqqani terrorists — groups officially designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department — while attempting to draw down U.S. and NATO forces in the region.
...
The main problem with Obama's policies is that they gave the enemy hope that the US would leave, instead of persuading them that their cause was hopeless it signaled that the US cause was losing hope.  Democrats seem prone to that type of management of wars and it is one reason why they usually lose them of late.

The US needs to focus on destroying Taliban leadership to the point that no one wants that position.

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