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US how to add air power, intelligence gathering in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – The united states is the movement of the combat and intelligence-gathering aircraft to Afghanistan as part of a sharper focus on the Taliban, now that the campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, the phasing-out, the commander of the air force of the coalition in Afghanistan said Wednesday.

Air Force Maj. Gen. James Hecker told reporters at the Pentagon in a video teleconference from Kabul on Feb. 1 the U.S. Central Command officially designated Afghanistan as the “main effort,” supplanting the anti-Islamic State campaign in Iraq and Syria. The central Command is responsible for all U.S. military operations in the broader Middle East and Central Asia.

Hecker stressed the importance of more support from the AMERICAN intelligence services, of which the analysis and expertise to help the military identify targets to strike.

“This behind-the-scenes legwork enables us to hit the Taliban where it most hurts, or the command-and-control … or their pocketbooks,” Hecker said.

He said that the US now has 50 percent more MQ-9 Reaper drones, providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in Afghanistan, in comparison with the previous year.

He said that the US also has A-10 attack planes and will be adding combat search-and-rescue aircraft.

Even if the U.S. adds air power, the size and capability of the Afghan air force to grow, Hecker said. The Afghans are now working with more strike missions than the Americans, ” he said.

“We are putting relentless pressure on the enemy these days,” Hecker said, with a aim of compelling the Taliban to reconcile with the government. That goal is pursued by the AMERICAN commanders in Afghanistan for a large part of the past 16 years, without success.

Hecker acknowledged that the air campaign is unlikely to do the trick.

“You’re not going to bomb them into submission,” he said. “But it is another pressure point that we can on them,” in addition to ground combat operations led by the Afghan army and the special operations forces.

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