Top US General: Pakistan Has Yet to Act Against Afghan Taliban

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Top US General: Pakistan Has Yet to Act Against Afghan Taliban

"We have been very direct and very clear with the Pakistanis. we have not seen those changes implemented yet", General John Nicholson told reporters.

"You're looking at well over a thousand advisers out at any given time and then, on top of that, all the additional enabling capabilities that will be in support of them", Nicholson told Pentagon reporters Tuesday.

Nicholson said 1,000 US soldiers will be moving deeper in conflict zones next year to "advise" Afghan military units. "As we roll into the spring - March/April - they will go on the offensive. Their choices are to reconcile, live in irrelevance, or die", Nicholson said.

The top USA general in Afghanistan said on Tuesday that he had not seen a change in Pakistan's support for militants so far, despite President Donald Trump taking a tougher line against Islamabad.

USA officials have made similar statements in the past.

Nicholson also spoke about how the USA has tripled the amount of airpower and munitions dropped so far this year in the 16-year Afghanistan war.

Nicholson gave an optimistic view of the situation, saying he believed "we are on our way to a win".

The Pentagon now says that there are 14,000 USA troops in Afghanistan, although a Defense Manpower Data Center report prepared in September and released earlier this month said there were 15,298 US service members in Afghanistan.

"So, any time a USA soldier, Marine, sailor, airman sets foot on the battlefield, there is always a whole array of support behind them".

"We will be here until the job is done", he said.

The general sought to characterize the development of the Taliban into a narco-insurgency as a positive development noting that the group was bickering about money.

"Each of these shifts represented to us a lowering of ambitions by the enemy", he said.

"Increasingly, they are principally interested in making money" from the drug trade, Nicholson. They fight to preserve and expand their sources of revenue.

Part of the new USA strategy in Afghanistan includes airstrikes on opium operations that provide the bulk of the Taliban's revenue.

Ghani has replaced four of five corps commanders, Nicholson said, and next year will push 2,150 colonels and generals into retirement "with dignity" to allow a younger generation of officers to assume command.

Nicholson said Afghan forces were now on the offensive.

Still, he said the US military effort is necessary but by itself not sufficient for success in the long run.

The new Afghanistan strategy Trump announced in August adds about 3,000 American troops and additional North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition partners to the Afghan fight, the bulk of whom will advise and assist Afghan forces down to the brigade level.

On the issue of terror hideouts and safe havens in Pakistan, Nicholson said that the expectations are out there.

While acknowledging that Pakistanis have "been engaged in a very tough fight against extremism inside their own country", Nicholson said he had not seen any significant changes from Islamabad.

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