War on Terror

Top U.S. Gen. Warns: Islamic State in Afghanistan ‘Harboring Intentions’ to Attack West

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) branch in Afghanistan has become a significant menace against the West despite the fall of the group’s caliphate in Iraq and Syria, a top American commander warned this week. In June, Brig. Gen. Lance R. Bunch, the top U.S. air commander in Afghanistan, noted that the ISIS wing has attempted to “establish” its own “caliphate” twice this year alone in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar along the Pakistan border, considered the group’s primary stronghold in the region. U.S.-NATO-assisted Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have so far managed to thwart the ISIS attempt to establish a caliphate in Afghanistan, Gen. Bunch declared. Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), charged with overseeing the war in Afghanistan, warned Pentagon reporters on Wednesday the American military is “concerned” ISIS in Afghanistan intends to attack the West. “I think we always have to be concerned about ISIS, whether it’s ISIS-K or whether it’s any of the other branches of it, harboring intentions to operate, you know, much more globally or externally from the areas in which they’re operating. And so, you know, we do have that concern about them,” Votel said. The ISIS branch in South Asia, which primarily operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is known as the Khorasan Province (ISIS-K). Asked whether the U.S. military is aware any links between ISIS-K and outside groups that would potentially carry out attacks in Europe or against the United States, Gen. Votel responded: “I think in general ISIS does have that intention.” When pressed to describe any actual plots by ISIS-K on the West, the top commander added, “I think there probably has been, but I can’t cite a specific example to you.” Back in October 2016, the U.S. military acknowledged that ISIS was “very focused on trying to establish their caliphate, the Khorasan caliphate, inside Afghanistan.” ISIS officially announced its presence in Afghanistan in early 2015, less than a year after the United States declared its combat mission over at the end of 2014. The U.S. has been assisting the Afghan forces in their fight against ISIS in their stronghold of Nangarhar. “We have killed numerous ISIS-K fighters this year,” Gen. Votel told reporters Wednesday. “The military campaign against ISIS has been both continuous and effective.” The general stressed that U.S. efforts towards “reconciliation” between Kabul and the Taliban, the primary goal of American President Donald Trump’s strategy to end to the nearly 17-year-old war, are separate from the fight to annihilate ISIS. “It is important to recognize that while we apply military pressure against the Taliban to bring them to the table of reconciliation, we harbor no illusion about reconciliation with ISIS-K; our mission is to destroy this organization,” he declared. Citing U.S. officials and the latest American intelligence estimates, Voice of America (VOA) reported this week that efforts to root out and decimate ISIS-K have “so far failed to prevent the terror group from maintaining a foothold in the country.” “IS-Khorasan is thought to have more than 1,000 fighters, most of them located in Afghanistan’s southern Nangarhar province, with a small number operating in the country’s eastern Kunar province,” VOA added. The ISIS branch reportedly reached a peak of 3,000 fighters in Afghanistan. According to a report from the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), ISIS-K was behind more than 50 percent of civilian casualties in the war-ravaged country through the first half of 2018. The University of Maryland’s renowned National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) listed ISIS-K among the 10 top prolifically deadliest terrorist group’s in the world last year, separate from core Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Last year, ISIS-K carried out 197 attacks, killing 1,302 people, the study revealed.

So, we’re VERY glad to hear GEN Votel say that his mission is “to destroy this organization.”  Outstanding!!  Having spent some time in Afghanistan myself, I’m thrilled to hear that we’re going on the offense again there.  Excellent!!     🙂

Winning: Study Shows Worldwide Terror Attacks Falling Under Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump presided over a decline of nearly 25 percent in the number of terrorist attacks and their lethality across the globe last year compared to 2016, a feat likely made possible by the ongoing demise of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), a U.S. government-linked study shows. Although ISIS remains the most prolific and deadly jihadi group in the world, followed by the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda’s Somalia-based al-Shabaab, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) noted a decline in ISIS attacks in a report released on August 1: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was responsible for the most terrorist attacks (1,321) and deaths (7,120) in 2017, though were responsible for 10 percent fewer attacks and 40 percent fewer deaths than in 2016. The Taliban and al-Shabaab were the next most active with 907 attacks (4,925 deaths) and 573 attacks (1894 deaths) respectively. Established as a Center for Excellence by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, the University of Maryland issues various START studies every year. The consortium catalogs attacks across the world by terrorists of all stripes, from ISIS to members of the Communist Party of India-Maoist. Click here for more.

U.S. Troops Celebrate Independence Day amid Unrelenting Threat in Afghanistan: ‘We Fight for It’

U.S. service members in Kabul took a moment’s respite from the wave of terrorist bombings in Afghanistan in recent months to enjoy a lunchtime ceremony in honor of America’s 242nd Independence Day on the Fourth of July. “It’s an important holiday because we fight for it,” U.S. Army Cpl. Ruby Cruz of the 191st Regional Support Group Forward from Fort Allen, Puerto Rico, told Stars and Stripes in Kabul. Acknowledging that she missed the celebrations back home, she added, “But we have fun here, too, so it’s not too bad.” A barbecue dinner in the evening is expected to follow the Fourth of July ceremony at the headquarters of the U.S.-NATO mission known as Resolute Support (RS). “American flags could be seen in all corners of NATO’s Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul on Wednesday as U.S. service-members celebrated Independence Day,” Stars and Stripes reports. Honoring the birth of the United States at the ceremony in Kabul, U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, declared: ” For American servicemen and women who are deployed overseas, this day holds a very special significance, and it reminds us of the tremendous sacrifices made by previous generations of patriots in all of America’s wars in defense of liberty at home and abroad. …We hope Afghans will remember this, that reconciliation is possible between rivals.” Reconciliation between Kabul and the Taliban is the primary goal of U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy to end the nearly 17-year-old war. In recent months, both the Afghan Taliban and its alleged rival, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), have heavily targeted the Afghan capital of Kabul, including a meeting of the top Islamic scholars in the country last month. The U.S. military has deployed a brigade that consists of about 800 military advisers and a few hundred additional soldiers to tackle the wave of bombings that have been targeting Kabul, the Washington Post reported on July 1. In March, Gen. Nicholson expanded the American mission to prevent massive bombings in Kabul..

So much for that reconciliation..  Having spent some time in Afghanistan, myself, I can say with certitude and experience that the Taliban (and certainly ISIS) has NO intention of reconciling.  They’re just waiting us out, so they can take back control after we leave.  So, as long as we’re there, we should be using all of our resources to totally intimidate, humiliate, and crush the Talian and the rest of the Islamo-wackos there.  As for the troops celebrating our Independence while “down range,” we’re all thinking of you.

U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamic State surge 300 percent

American warplanes are working overtime against Islamic State targets in Syria, with the number of combat sorties in May against the terror group surging over 300 percent compared to recent months, says new airstrike figures released by command officials Friday. U.S. and coalition combat aircraft flew 225 airstrikes last month, hitting 280 known Islamic State or ISIS redoubts in Syria, located mostly in the volatile Euphrates River Valley, said American commanders with the U.S.-led counterterrorism mission Operation Inherent Resolve. During a single six-day period in May, American and allied fighter jets executed 41 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, resulting in 49 enemy targets hit, coalition officials said in a statement. “This demonstrates a 304 percent increase over the 74 strikes conducted in March and a 123 percent increase over the 183 strikes recorded in April,” according to Friday’s statement. The majority of the airstrikes were carried out in support of Operation Roundup, the ground campaign led by the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF — the American-backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab paramilitaries — to eliminate remaining pockets of ISIS resistance in the Euphrates River Valley. “Operation Roundup will continue to build momentum against Daesh remnants remaining in the Iraq-Syria border region and the [Euphrates River Valley],” command officials said in the statement, using the derogatory Arabic term for ISIS. “The Coalition remains committed to the lasting defeat of Daesh here, increasing peace and stability in the region and protecting all our homelands from the Daesh threat,” coalition officials added. Kicking off in early May, the operation is the first major anti-ISIS operation by the SDF and the American-led coalition since the fall of Raqqa — the terror group’s de facto Syrian capital and the heart of its so-called caliphate — in 2017. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters aboard the U.S.S Harry S. Truman carrier strike group began bombarding Islamic State positions in May, linking up with the Navy’s Sixth Fleet — which is responsible for U.S. maritime operations in Europe and North Africa — late last April, as part of the Pentagon’s seemingly final push to eradicate ISIS from its Syrian enclaves. On Thursday, Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said American advisers on the ground in Syria and their higher ups at the Pentagon were seeing good progress from the SDF. “We’re making progress, and, in concert with our SDF partners, I think that we’re beginning to clear out the final pockets of ISIS,” he told reporters during a Defense Department briefing. “We want to leave behind security elements that are going to be able to maintain [security] at the local level,” the three-star general said. “That’s sort of a long-term aim we have, as we push down the Euphrates River Valley, and that progress is continuing.”

US Air Force B-52 drops record number of precision bombs on Taliban

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress dropped a record number of precision guided bombs on Taliban over the past 24 hours in Northern Afghanistan, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement Tuesday. The bombing was part of a 96-hour air campaign that struck training facilities and sources of revenue like narcotics. The strikes also aimed at stolen Afghan National Army vehicles “being converted to vehicle-borne” improvised explosive devices, the statement read. “The Taliban have nowhere to hide,” Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of the unit, said. “There will be no safe haven for any terrorist group bent on bringing harm and destruction to this country.” The B-52, which was recently reconfigured with a “conventional rotary,” dropped 24 guided munitions. The U.S. military is pulling its forces from an American-led coalition base in Iraq and shifting them to Afghanistan following the defeat of Islamic State group militants in the country. Western contractors at the base say U.S. troops began the drawdown over the past week, with groups of soldiers leaving the base on daily flights. The exact scale of the redeployment was unclear. According to various estimates, as of 2016, there were more than 5,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Iraq, with nearly 4,000 deployed to support and assist local groups fighting ISIS militants. The remaining personnel included special operations forces, logistics workers and troops on temporary rotations, the BBC reported.

Nice!  Score one for the good guys!     🙂

Air Force deploys A-10s to Afghanistan to ramp up Taliban fight

The U.S. Air Force has deployed A-10 Thunderbolt jets to Afghanistan for the first time in more than three years to provide close-air support for American and Afghan troops — the latest sign of escalating military operations and deepening U.S. military involvement by the Trump administration against the Taliban, more than 16 years after the 9/11 attacks. “As we’ve applied increased pressure on the Taliban and their revenue sources with precision airpower, we’ve gained considerable momentum in our effort to force them to reconcile or face defeat,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, in a statement to Fox News. “As U.S. advisors move closer to the front lines in support of our Afghan partners, this additional airpower will give them the decisive advantage necessary to advance with confidence.” The newly arrived A-10s flew their first combat missions in Afghanistan less than 24 hours after arriving at Kandahar Airfield on Friday, January 19. The jets are from the 303d Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. In addition to the A-10s, Air Force Central Command has sent more MQ-9 Reaper drones, and HH-60G helicopters used by Air Force special operations forces for combat search and rescue. The additional jets and helicopters will report to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield, located an hour north of Kabul. The Air Force is sending 12 A-10 jets to Kandahar Airfield. The Air Force Reserve unit was previously scheduled to replace the A-10s operating out of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to take part in the ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria — but with the terrorist group having lost 98 percent of the territory it once controlled due to in part a relentless air campaign, top military brass decided the jets were needed in Afghanistan to support Afghan and American troops on the ground. The U.S. Air Force says more than 4,300 bombs were dropped last year in Afghanistan, far fewer than the nearly 40,000 dropped against ISIS in Iraq and Syria over the same period. This fall, 3,000 additional U.S. troops arrived in Afghanistan. By April, the U.S. Army is planning to send up to 1,000 more from Fort Benning, Ga. — the first soldiers from the U.S. Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigade, a unit made up of experienced officers and enlisted soldiers to advise Afghan troops closer to the front lines. The additional troops will bring the U.S. total to roughly 15,000. There were roughly 8,400 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan when President Trump took office. The U.S. military dropped more bombs in Afghanistan in 2017, than in 2012 when the U.S. military had nearly 100,000 troops on the ground, according to the Air Force. The spike in airstrikes began after Trump took office last year. As the war against ISIS winds down in Iraq and Syria, more Air Force jets and drones are being sent to Afghanistan. The new jets arrive at a time when both the Taliban and an ISIS-affiliate have stepped up their attacks on Afghanistan’s capital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack lasting more than 13 hours at Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel by six gunmen, killing an estimated 18 civilians, mostly foreigners, according to local media reports. A significant number of the air strikes in Afghanistan last year targeted an ISIS-affiliate, responsible for other attacks inside Kabul at the end of the year, killing more than 100 civilians. Senior military leaders want to attack the Taliban using the same tactics used successfully against ISIS in Iraq and Syria — destroy major revenue sources to dry up funding which supports the organization. The top American commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., wants to go after the Taliban’s poppy crops used to make heroin, in much the same way the U.S. relentlessly attacked a major funding source for ISIS — oil. “This is allowed under the authorities that I was granted under the new U.S. strategy,” Nicholson told reporters late last year. “I could not do that previously.” “(Afghanistan) President (Ashraf) Ghani said, he believes we have turned the corner and I agree,” Nicholson added. Air Force Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch said in December that U.S. airstrikes destroyed 25 narcotics-processing labs worth $80 million from the Taliban inventory in Helmand Province, not far from neighboring Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan, where the new A-10s will be based. The A-10 dates back to the mid-70s, a jet made famous for its 30mm Gatling gun, which can fire 3,900 rounds a minute, the preferred air asset by U.S. ground troops for decades — to take out enemy forces at close range. The “Warthog,” as the jet is known, was designed to loiter above the battlefield at low altitudes protected by reinforced armor around the cockpit with a bulletproof-glass canopy. The newest A-10 was built in 1984, however. Because of its age, the jet has been a target for Air Force cuts in recent years as budgets tightened. But the jet maintains strong support on Capitol Hill, and has continued to be requested on the frontlines. A squadron of 12 A-10s deployed to Turkey in 2015 to strike ISIS. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the Senate Armed Services Committee in December that she supported keeping the aging jets until the mid-2020s. “I happen to be a fan of the A-10,” she said.

As are we, here at The Daily Buzz!  Glad to see they’ll be joining the fight in Afghanistan!  Having spent some time personally in Afghanistan, I know just how much the troops on the ground love to see Warthogs softening the battlefield and chewing up the enemy.  Excellent!!   🙂

Single U.S. airstrike wipes out 100 terrorists in Somalia

A single American military airstrike killed at least 100 fighters allied with the Somali-based terror group al-Shabab, the Pentagon revealed Tuesday, adding to an escalating body count as the Trump administration ramps up its counterterrorism campaign in the West African nation. U.S. forces working with the Somalian government on Tuesday confirmed an American sortie against a suspected al-Shabab camp ended with more than 100 fighters dead. The strike, which took place 125 miles west of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, was the largest casualty count racked up by U.S. warplanes operating in Somalia this month. And the Pentagon said the up-tempo pace will not fade quickly. “U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats” working with the African Union and Somali federal forces, the U.S. Africa Command said in a statement shortly after Tuesday’s strike. Reached by the Reuters news service, al-Shabab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab denied the attack. “It is just … propaganda,” he said. But Somalia’s state news agency SONNA reported late on Tuesday that “about 100 militants” had indeed been killed when U.S. planes and Somali commandos attacked al-Shabab bases in the Bur Elay area of Bay region. The attack on the al-Shabab compound was the fifth by American fighters against targets associated with the terror group that has been fighting a deadly insurgent war against the weak Somalian government. Several militants were killed during a pair of initial airstrikes on Nov. 3, while several more died during a Nov. 14 U.S. strike on an al-Shabab target 60 miles northwest of Mogadishu, command officials confirmed at the time. There are currently 500 U.S. military personnel stationed in Somalia, supporting and leading counterterrorism operations in the country, Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said earlier this month. He declined to comment on the exact number of al-Shabab fighters based in the country, or whether other terror groups like Islamic State were gaining a foothold in the Horn of Africa. In one of its first national security actions, the Trump administration in May ordered an escalation of American-led operations against al-Shabab’s network in Somalia. The order came weeks after Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken was killed in a Navy SEALs raid against a known al-Shabab stronghold in the country. His death was the first U.S. casualty in Somalia since 18 American soldiers were killed during the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident in 1993. Earlier this month the U.S. warned of a threat to American diplomatic personnel in Mogadishu and directed all nonessential staff to leave the capital. Al-Shabab has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities and towns since it was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011. But it retains a strong presence in parts of the south and center and carries out terror attacks, Reuters reported.

Score one for the good guys!  Excellent!!    🙂