Top US commander: Thousands more troops needed to break Afghanistan 'stalemate'


Today, however, during his testimony to Congress, Nicholson is starting to push a major new military buildup for Afghanistan, complaining to Congress that the war is in a "stalemate," and that several thousand more U.S. troops need to be sent to break that stalemate.

General John Nicholson also told the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9 that Russian Federation had significantly increased covert and overt support for the Taliban, with a goal of "undermining the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

Nicholson wants more troops to work with the lower levels in the chain of command, it looks likely his call will fall on deaf ears as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation lacks the appetite for a troop surge in Afghanistan.

"Offensive capabilities [aviation and special forces] will break the stalemate", he told the panel.

Slowing efforts to build Afghanistan's air capabilities is the travel ban placed on seven Muslim-majority nations, including Afghanistan, said Republican Sen. "These sanctuaries must be eliminated".

Nicholson contended that Russian Federation has been publicly legitimizing the Taliban by claiming that the militants are fighting Islamic terrorists while the Afghan government is not. He earlier characterized the Taliban as a "narco-insurgency" and acknowledged that poppy production was up., increasing the funds available to them.

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"First, they have begun to publicly legitimize the Taliban".

The 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan, with another 5,000 troops deployed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, are unable to break the stalemate since they're not able to train enough Afghan forces.

But the idea of sending more Americans to the war zone may not go over well with a public frustrated by the length and cost of the conflict.

His home state of Arizona hosts a training site for Afghani F-16 pilots, he said.

The Afghan forces remained hamstrung by corruption and leadership problems, stemming from an entrenched patronage system, he said.

The United States "is withholding funds for soldiers we can not biometrically account for" and not just paying for names appearing on unit rosters.

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"I recognize the distance of Afghanistan and the length of this [war] has been challenging for the American people to support", Nicholson said.

"We have a shortfall of a few thousand", he said. "We need to continue to work closely with Pakistan".

Nicholson said the Afghans and Pakistanis are having to contend with 20 of the 98 State Department designated terrorist organizations, such as the Taliban, the Haqqani Network al Qaeda and others operating inside its borders or crossing over from Pakistan. The Islamic State moved into eastern Afghanistan in 2015, and since then Afghan forces backed up by US airstrikes have hit them hard, reducing their numbers - once estimated to be as high as 3,000 - by half, and cutting ISIS-held territory by two-thirds. In addition, Tehran is financing fighters in the northern provinces of the country and Kabul, the capital, against the government.

Moscow - which fears instability in the Central Asian nations located between Russian Federation and Afghanistan - has been a lukewarm ally of USA coalition efforts there, allowing its territory to be used to transport personnel and materiel.

"We believe our operations in Afghanistan directly protect the United States homeland", he said in answer to a question about the value of continuing the fight after 15 years.

"Other non-military factors such as the economy, governance and corruption, demographics, reconciliation and reintegration, and the influence of the narcotics trade also affect this mission and underscore the need to employ all instruments of US national power with those of our Allies and partners", Nicholson wrote. "Our objective is to destroy them".

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