The United States and NATO may not have enough troops in Afghanistan to carry out President Trump's strategy to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda. That is what Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander of United States Forces Afghanistan, is saying.
Nicholson, who is responsible for carrying out Operation Resolute Support, expressed that belief during a press briefing at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels, Belgium.
Operation Resolute Support Commander, Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., addresses the audience during the change of command ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 2, 2016.
"This year, we fought most of the year — however, at the lowest level of capability that we've ever had in the 16 years. So it was the lowest level of capability and the highest level of risk we've faced in this time. Part of the reason for the higher risk was [that] we're only at 80 percent. We were only at an 80 percent fill on our combined joint statement of requirements," Nicholson said during the briefing.
During the briefing, Nicholson also noted that the force may look into hiring contractors – specifically, retired cops – to help train Afghan police. "That's — that's not my first choice. We'd rather have serving police officers — serving police professionals to come into those roles," he said of that approach. Nicholson also noted that the first Security Force Assistance Brigade will be deploying to Afghanistan next year.
Afghan National Army soldiers assault a building during their final training exercise in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Navy Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Cohen.)
President Trump unveiled his Afghanistan strategy in August, in which he defined victory as "attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America."
In October, WATM reported that American troops saw a five-year high in terms of combat in Afghanistan. Also that month, Secretary of Defense James Mattis loosened the rules of engagement that governed American troops in the theater of operations, and this past spring, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Burst bomb made its combat debut when it was used against a Taliban tunnel complex.