U.S. warplanes dropped more weapons on Afghanistan in April than in any other single month since 2012, according to new statistics, as military officials press U.S. President Donald Trump to send thousands more troops to the country.
The escalation in the use of American air power was partly due to an effort by U.S. commanders to wipe out a nascent Islamic State presence before the group can establish more of a foothold in the county, a military spokesman said.
The U.S. Air Force unleashed 460 bombs, missiles, or other ordnance last month in Afghanistan , more than double the 203 weapons dropped in March and more than seven times the quantity deployed in April last year.
Trump has yet to announce a decision on proposals from his top military advisers calling for the United States and its coalition allies to send 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan . Currently around 8,400 U.S. and 6,500 coalition troops are deployed, mostly to train and support Afghan forces.
The additional troops could also be used to ramp-up air support, which has often been seen as decisive in preventing the total collapse of some Afghan defensive positions and relies on trained air controllers on the ground.
The last time more weapons were dropped in a single month was August 2012, when nearly 80,000 U.S. troops were battling the Taliban and two years before former President Barack Obama declared an end to the combat mission in Afghanistan .
Since then, however, Afghan forces have struggled to hold back a resurgent Taliban insurgency. Islamic State's small local affiliate, sometimes known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), has been active since 2015.
Last month the U.S. military dropped one of its largest conventional weapons ever used in combat, a 21,600-lb (9,797 kg) GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, on suspected Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan .