KABUL - Top US and Resolute Support commander in Afghanistan , General John Nicholson, said US air support to Afghan security forces will be doubled in the next war season in order put more pressure on insurgents, TOLO News has reported.
Nicholson made the remarks during his trip to Helmand province on Monday where he attended the US Marine forces command transition from Brig. Gen Roger Turner, who led the forces for nine months at Shorab Military Base, to General Watson.
Nicholson said they will increase the pressure on insurgents on the battlefields and on their safe havens out of Afghanistan’s borders.
“Next year we will double the amount of close air support that the Afghan Air Force cannot provide because of additional platforms. And we will do a steady increase of the number of UH-60 that will be introduced to the air force.
So this will go on for several years. The reason is we want to make sure the pilots are trained properly, the mechanics are trained properly and the air coordination is properly developed,” said Nicholson.
He said it is better for the Taliban to join the Afghan peace process, “because negotiation is better than using force for resolving conflicts”.
Talking on this topic, the Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak termed the US air support to Afghan forces as vital in eliminating terrorist groups.
“The (air) support has been very effective and in the future the support will be tripled,” Barmak told a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Defense meanwhile called on the international community to increase pressure on insurgents in Afghanistan and on their supporters out of the country.
“US forces have special technology that helps us to target terrorists anywhere they hide,” Defense Ministry deputy spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said.
US will invest four billion dollars in the next three to four years in the Afghan Air Force to enable them to stand on their own feet, officials said. Buying airplanes, helicopters and training Afghan pilots and Air Force engineers are part of this effort.
According to the Defense Ministry, the Afghan Air Force conducts at least 100 flights daily of which over 10 flights are for targeting insurgents.