Taliban drug labs targeted by B-52 strikes overnight

American aircraft have targeted drug producing facilities in Afghanistan for the first time under a new strategy aimed at cutting off Taliban funding, the top U.S. general in the country said Nov. 20.

Gen. John Nicholson said the raids were carried out Nov. 19 in the southern Helmand province, as part of the strategy unveiled by President Donald Trump in August. Afghan and American aircraft — including B-52 bombers dropping 2,000-pound bombs and F-22 attack planes — took part in the raids.

Nicholson said the insurgents generate an estimated $200 million a year from poppy cultivation and opium production.

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, patrol through Musa Qaleh District, Afghanistan, April 17, 2012. During Operation Lariat, Marines engaged in multiple firefights with insurgents before searching suspicious compounds. (DOD Photo by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik)

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, patrol through Musa Qaleh District, Afghanistan, April 17, 2012. During Operation Lariat, Marines engaged in multiple firefights with insurgents before searching suspicious compounds. (DOD Photo by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik)

In a news conference with the Afghan army chief of staff, Nicholson said the Taliban were becoming a criminal organization. “They fight so that they can keep profiting from narcotics trade and other criminal activities,” he said. He added that there are 13 major drug trafficking organizations in Afghanistan, of which seven are in Helmand.

Afghanistan’s opium production has nearly doubled this year compared to 2016, while areas that are under poppy cultivation rose by 63 percent, according to a joint survey released last week by the United Nations and the Afghan government.

Read Also: Afghanistan’s opium production is out of control

Production stands at a record level of 9,000 metric tons (9,921 U.S. tons) so far in 2017, with some 328,000 hectares (810,488 acres) under cultivation, according to the survey, carried out by the Counter-Narcotics Ministry and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

A field filled with opium poppy plants can be seen April 11, 2012, in Marjah, Afghanistan. Heroin is derived from raw opium gum, which comes from opium poppies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Michael P. Snody)

A field filled with opium poppy plants can be seen April 11, 2012, in Marjah, Afghanistan. Heroin is derived from raw opium gum, which comes from opium poppies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Michael P. Snody)

Afghanistan is the world’s top cultivator of the poppy, from which opium and heroin are produced.

The Taliban prohibited poppy cultivation when they governed the country in the late 1990s, but have since come to rely on it as they wage an increasingly potent insurgency against the government and its foreign backers.

The Taliban have seized several districts across the country and have carried out a series of major attacks, mainly targeting Afghan security forces, since U.S. and NATO forces officially shifted to a support and counterterrorism role at the end of 2014.

TOP ARTICLES
How a Christmas-gift-to-be turned into a booming vet-owned business

Looking for the perfect gift for the salty veteran in your life and fast running out of ideas? Put those 72 koozies down and check out Medals of America.

This wounded warrior is turning steel into gold in Alabama

Colin Wayne went from an Army National Guardsman to a fitness model to...a steel worker? Wayne’s company, Redline Steel, creates art from steel.

3 leadership lessons that will take you from the battlefield to the boardroom

Col. Ted Studdard never imagined he'd have a 25-year career in the Marines, but he's got some pro tips to share now that he's a bonafide "mustang."

How a soldier went to war with his unique brand of Cuban-style cigars

Blanco Cigar, a company built and run by a first generation American with Cuban roots, has its ups and downs, but generated over a million dollars in 2017.

6 crazy things actually found in boot camp amnesty boxes

Upon arriving at boot camp, the staff gives newbies a chance to toss prohibited items into the "amnesty box." Want to know what's inside?

Why your next battle buddy might be a robot armed with a railgun

The Army has quite a Christmas wishlist for Uncle Sam Claus, and it's filled with all kinds of goodies like robots, light tanks, and lasers.

Here's why some Corpsmen are considered Marines, and some aren't

A sailor earning respect from a Marine is a tough challenge. It's a special privilege to have a Marine tell you happy birthday each Nov. 10.

Here are the changes to the combat uniform the Army is testing right now

The Army will be testing new uniforms and boots beginning in 2018, better suited for hotter environments. Here's what's different about them.

The Navy will pump out more attack subs to counter Russia and China

The Navy had previously decided to slow production of Virginia-Class submarines, but has now decided to produce more in order to keep up with rivals.

So, parts of our helicopters are falling on children now

A window fell out of a CH-53E as it flew over an elementary school in Okinawa, Japan. One child sustained a minor injury from debris caused by the window.