The US military has been hitting the Taliban harder since peace talks fell through, Esper says

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VIDEO: That time Jeff started a Twitter beef with the Taliban

At the direction of President Donald Trump, the U.S. military has ramped up the number of air and ground attacks against the Taliban, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday.

“We did step up our attacks on the Taliban since the [peace] talks broke down," Esper told reporters while returning from visits to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky. “The president spoke about this publicly. We did pick up the pace considerably."


In September, the president placed peace talks on hold amid continued Talban attacks. Now, the Taliban are reaping the whirlwind.

“The president did want us to pick up the response to this," Esper said. “You had the heinous attacks that the Taliban and others conducted throughout Afghanistan … in Kabul and a couple of other places."

After he suspended peace talks, which were supposed to involve the Taliban coming to Camp David, Trump indicated the Taliban were coming under increasing military pressure.

“The last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before, and that will continue," Trump said during his speech commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Esper declined to provide any numbers to quantify the increase in strikes and he did not say if U.S. troops in Afghanistan are going outside the wire more often now.

“I don't want to comment in terms of detail because, frankly, I don't have that level of detail, but we did pick up the pace of attacks, as the president has spoken about, with regard to both air and ground."

Oct. 7 marks the 18th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.

World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient Maj. Bill White, who at 104 is believed to be the oldest living Marine, has received a remarkable outpouring of cards and support from around the world after asking the public for Valentine's Day cards. "It hit me like a ton of bricks. I still can't get over it," he said. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

STOCKTON — Diane Wright opened the door of an apartment at The Oaks at Inglewood, the assisted care facility in Stockton where she is the executive director. Inside, three people busily went through postal trays crammed with envelopes near a table heaped with handmade gifts, military memorabilia, blankets, quilts, candy and the like.

Operation Valentine has generated a remarkable outpouring of support from around the world for retired United States Marine, Maj. Bill White. Earlier this month, a resident at The Oaks, Tony Walker, posted a request on social media to send Valentine's Day cards to the 104-year-old World War II veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart.

Walker believed Maj. White would enjoy adding the cards to his collection of memorabilia. The response has been greater than anyone ever thought possible.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.

A spokesman for the Taliban has told a Pakistani newspaper that the militant group is hoping to reach an Afghan peace deal with U.S negotiators by the end of January.

The comments by Suhail Shaheen on January 18 to the Dawn newspaper come after negotiators from the Taliban and the United States met for two days of talks in Qatar.

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The three Americans killed in a C-130 crash in Australia on Thursday were all veterans (left to right) Ian H. McBeth, of the Wyoming and Montana Air National Guard; Paul Clyde Hudson, of the Marine Corps; and Rick A. DeMorgan Jr., of the Air Force. (Coulson Aviation courtesy photo)

The three Americans killed in a C-130 air tanker crash while fighting Australian bushfires on Thursday were all identified as military veterans, according to a statement released by their employer, Coulson Aviation.

The oldest of the three fallen veterans was Ian H. McBeth, a 44-year-old pilot who served with the Wyoming Air National Guard and was an active member of the Montana Air National Guard. McBeth "spent his entire career flying C-130s and was a qualified Instructor and Evaluator pilot," said Coulson Aviation. He's survived by his wife Bowdie and three children Abigail, Calvin and Ella.

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MIAMI/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will release details of his long-delayed peace plan for the Middle East before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his election rival Benny Gantz visit the White House next week.

The political aspects of the peace initiative have been closely guarded. Only the economic proposals have been unveiled.

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The Pentagon moved a total of $35 trillion among its various budget accounts in 2019, Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg first reported.

That does not mean that the Defense Department spent, lost, or could not account for $35 trillion, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington, D.C.

"It means money that DoD moved from one part of the budget to another," Clark explained to Task & Purpose. "So, like in your household budget: It would be like moving money from checking, to savings, to your 401K, to your credit card, and then back."

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