WASHINGTON – AN AMERICAN missile artillery strike last week at a meeting of Taliban leaders in southern Afghanistan killed at least 50 of them, a U.S. military official said Tuesday.
Lt.-Col. Martin O’donnell, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said a weapon system known as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, which is capable of firing GPS-guided missiles, destroyed a command-and-control position that was a known meeting place for senior Taliban leaders. He said that at least 50 leaders were killed.
Additional, unspecified Taliban officials were killed in AMERICAN air strikes over a recent 10-day period, the spokesman said.
It Can take 24 rocket artillery attack in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province was announced by the AMERICAN military last week, but without a public estimate of the numbers killed.
O’donnell said that due to the large number of leaders killed, and their involvement in a series of attacks planning, the impact of the HIMARS strike “will be felt outside the province of Helmand.” He called it an example of how the U.S. army is the use of expanded authorities granted as part of the Trump administration of the new regional strategy for fighting the war in Afghanistan, allowing AMERICAN forces to take a more active role to play in the battle.
AMERICAN officials have tried to force the Taliban to enter peace talks by increasing the military pressure on them.
Last week, a US government watchdog group said the administration of the renewed strategy has made little progress against the Taliban insurgency, making the country a “dangerous and volatile” almost 17 years after the US invasion. That conclusion stands in contrast with the claims made last autumn by the U.s. army that the Afghans, with AMERICAN support, had “turned the corner” and caught momentum against the Taliban, that the so-called broken and desperate.
The report to Congress by the inspectors general of the Pentagon, the Ministry of foreign affairs and the U.S. Agency for International Development is also doubt about the administration’s decision to create a new set of military advisers this year to work with the Afghan forces closer to the front line. He said this, combined with a strengthened Afghan offensives, “further increases the risk of civilian casualties, insider attacks, AMERICAN casualties, and other conflict-related violence.”
The U.S. has about 15,000 in support of the troops in Afghanistan, mostly providing the various forms of military assistance.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump has nominated Army Lt. Gen. Scott Miller for promotion to four-star rank and assignment as the next commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. If this is confirmed by the Senate, Miller would succeed Gen. John Nicholson, who has held the position since March 2016 and is expected to take a step back this summer.
Miller is currently commander of the Joint Special Operations Command and is a career special operations soldier.