The Trump administration “set a new record” for dropping munitions on Taliban drug facilities in Afghanistan, according to newly declassified information showing a significant increase in American operations in the war-torn country since the White House announced a new policy for the region. The U.S. has significantly increased the number of airstrikes conducted on Taliban drug operations during the first part of 2018, marking the largest number of munitions expenditures over this period in the country since reporting began in 2013, according to a supplemental report provided by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.
The Trump administration “has increased the number of airstrikes: the United States released 378 munitions in January, 469 in February, and 339 in March 2018 during 215 missions,” according to information released by the Pentagon. “The total of 1,186 munitions released in the first quarter of 2018 is a record for this period since reporting began in 2013, and is over two and a half times the amount for the first quarter of 2017.”
The information originally had been classified as part of an effort to obscure detailed numbers of U.S. operations to cripple the Taliban’s financial networks. Its release comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Monday to meet with the country’s leaders. The administration has significantly expanded airstrikes in the country, according to SIGAR.
The good news is that as drugs are an important revenue stream for the Taliban, America’s streets are safer and the Taliban has lost $20 million. The bad news is that they can easily replace the equipment, and deploying air resources is costly for the United States, meaning it costs us more to destroy them than it does for them to lose it. Denying the Taliban critical revenue has to be the prize, and the president deserves credit for empowering our armed forces to pursue the Taliban and their resources.