US targets Taliban drug facilities in Helmand

US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) hit Taliban-run “narcotics production facilities” in an airstrike in the southern province of Helmand, where the Taliban are entrenched after years of fighting.

F/A-18 Super Hornets, flown from a US Navy aircraft carrier, targeted and destroyed the Taliban drug labs on Dec. 7, USFOR-A announced on it’s Facebook page. Video of the operation showed two bombs hitting a walled compound in a village.

USFOR-A said that the operation “contributed to the destruction of nearly $4 million in direct Taliban revenues, and is part of an effort to cut off the Taliban’s economic lifelines and degrade their ability to continue operations.” [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Coalition attacks Taliban command center and drug labs.]

Yesterday’s strike is part of a “campaign to destroy Taliban funding networks,” Resolute Support, NATO’s command in Afghanistan announced on Nov. 20. In mid-November, the US military and Afghan Air Force hit a Taliban command and control center and seven “drug labs” in what the Coalition described as “previously untargeted safe havens in south and southwest” Afghanistan.

General John Nicholoson, the commander of USFOR-A and Resolute Support, indicated on Nov. 20 that the strikes, which are the result of the US government’s recalibration of its Afghanistan and South Asia policy, “are just the beginning.”

Yesterday’s strikes are the latest in an increased air campaign that has hit both the Taliban and al Qaeda, which maintains a strong presence in Afghanistan. On Dec. 1, The US killed Mullah Shah Wali, the head of the Taliban’s Red Unit or its special forces in Helmand province. Wali was also the Taliban’s deputy shadow governor for Helmand.

On Dec. 4, the US killed Omar Khetab, a deputy leader in al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, in one of several strikes against the group in Ghazni, Pakita, and Zabul province. Resolute Support reported that “multiple other al Qaeda operatives” were killed during the operation. Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security claimed that 81 al Qaeda operatives, including Khetab, were killed and 27 more were captured.

The Taliban has not denied reports of Wali’s death, but did note the operation that targeted and killed Khetab and other al Qaeda operatives. In a statement denying Afghan military gains in Logar, the Taliban claimed the “enemy … has also spread rumors regarding their gains in Zabul, Ghazni and Paktia province which [sic] false and no more than sheer propaganda.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • irebukeu says:

    Trump took the gloves off the military, is letting them decide what should be done and this is what they are doing? Where are the combat brigades? Are we going to defeat the Taliban by dropping 500 pounders on mud houses? If so, lets tell the American people the good news. Is this what the military was looking to do for so long and now are, when they get the chance? I thought they wanted the field armies in the field?
    This would seem to be a contradiction until politics is considered where all truths become subjective and debatable.
    The truth is we are not going back into Afghanistan with anything like the numbers we did and never should have in the first place. The non debatable (facts) numbers now become ‘secret’. The ‘go Big until victory’ crowd are not being quiet. They have all changed their tune but Google knows them and their old sing-songs.
    The people that advocated staying”until victory”, claimed a 100,000 strong field army (when Obama was president) was TOO small and did so under the often tried and very tired argument that “America has to stand by its word/commitments and show our enemies that we are not quitters or” and here is the kicker- “our friends cant depend on us and our enemies will be emboldened”.
    This might be news for some but our friends already don’t count on us and they all know already that we will quit EVERY military adventure that the people do not back, as we are a democracy. Australia and Canada have learned though England keeps getting its fingers burned for us. Our enemies smile every time we go misadventuring as they actually profit ($), though schadenfreude is their true reward (Russia). They all know, yet we keep making these half adventures and taking half measures expecting full results and in the end we blame each other or the ‘media’ for the mess.
    Perhaps the fact American field armies are resting in their world wide bases while the “gloves are OFF” can be proof to me that a lesson HAS been half learned.
    Robert Gates, the Ex CIA director (and the ONLY CIA director to come in at entry level as an analyst and rise to the pinnacle-the only one) and 5th longest serving secretary of defense knows whats up and said the next guy to consider doing this should have his head examined (I am paraphrasing). The exact words of Robert Gates will be remembered in 100 years by the same people who remember Ike’s warning about the medical and military industrial complex. Ike’s warning goes unheeded for now.
    IS has been defeated. No caliph and no territory!!! Who gets the credit for having done so? I think many people including the readers here, know the truth about how IS has been defeated. Muslims get 85-95% of the credit for defeating IS. Iraq, Syria, Kurds, Hezbollah and Iran with a little added help from the western powers (Russia/America) and a few Syrian Christians
    Those who pay no attention to reality, actual events and history can turn to their singularities in political coverage to be outraged and entertained.
    Today, readers of an American political news website, will read how IS has been defeated and will be horribly misinformed.
    Try not to laugh if you click the link.
    Check this out- ‘Just over a year later, ISIS has been routed from Iraq and Syria with an ease and speed that’s surprised even the men and women who carried out the mission. Experts say it’s a prime example of a campaign promise kept. President Trump scrapped his predecessor’s rules of engagement, which critics say hamstrung the military, and let battlefield decisions be made by the generals in the theater, and not bureaucrats in Washington.’
    The article title is hilarious.
    Truthiness has replaced truth. Recreational outrage and victim status seem to be forms of entertainment on both the left and right. Both political polarities seem to be grow like a church-competing for control of the center.
    If this environment perpetuates, then the center can’t hold.

  • irebukeu says:

    I meant to say foxnews not fox.

  • James says:

    This is what I’ve been saying all along. Go after the opium trade, CIA. Just follow the opium trail. You’ll learn everything you’d ever need to know about the Taliban, and then some, by doing so. In fact, I’m willing to be it will yield significant intel on AQ main.

    Now that we’ve got a businessman in the WH, hopefully someone there will realize the positive potential to be gotten in ‘legitimizing’ Afghanistan’s opium trade (via production of legal pharmaceuticals).

    The fact that these drug labs were located inside Afghanistan indicates to me at least that they were most likely refining the opium into heroine to be used on suicide bombers. What better way to manipulate a reluctant suicide bomber than to get him (or her) high as a kite on heroine.

  • kimball144 says:

    Finally good news! Disrupting and destoying the opium/heroin network is even more imortant and very effective in the long run.


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