(Source: www.airforcetimes.com – Kyle Rempfer) – US strikes continue an upward trend in Afghanistan

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group and the Taliban in Afghanistan continue to grow as the 17-year-old war in the country pushes into the summer fighting season once more.

Numbers released by U.S. Air Forces Central Command show that while Afghanistan airstrikes trend upward in Afghanistan, they are simultaneously decreasing in Iraq and Syria as the war against ISIS’ main cohort there reportedly winds down.

So far this year, U.S. aircraft, including drones, have released 2,911 munitions in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel — the American-led offensive against insurgent forces in Afghanistan.

The number of weapons dropped in the country already surpasses the totals from all years AFCENT has tracked, back to 2013, with the exception of 2017. Given that each month this year the number of weapons dropped is greater than each corresponding month in 2017, though, the total munitions dropped this year is on track to surpass even that year’s previous high. (…)In Iraq and Syria, airstrikes have fallen sharply, reaching just 2,862 weapons released by June. Around this time last year, U.S. and coalition aircraft had dropped more than 23,000 weapons, according to AFCENT. (…) The increased airstrikes in Afghanistan coincide with a 10-fold increase in airdrops in the country. More than 327,000 pounds of supplies were airdropped into Afghanistan by the end of May this year, compared to 33,000 pounds of supplies throughout all of 2017. (…)

The Afghan air force’s tactical air coordinator career field, similar to American and NATO joint terminal attack controllers, has been making significant strides as well, enhancing the ability of Afghan aircraft in close-air support scenarios with friendly ground forces. Afghan tactical air coordinators cannot control U.S. aircraft, however.

The Afghan air force also made progress by twice airdropping supplies, a crucial capability if the Afghans are to prevent besieged outposts from falling to insurgent forces in the future. (…)


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Photo Credit >>>Afghan commandos conduct a combined helicopter and ground assault raid in Bala Boluk district, Farah province, Afghanistan, in May 2018. (Sgt. Joe Conroy/Army), as published in ibid