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The US conducted more airstrikes in Afghanistan in 2018 than any other time in the last decade
The U.S. military conducted more airstrikes in Afghanistan last year than in the three previous years combined, making 2018 the most kinetic year for airstrikes in the country in at least a decade.
The second-highest year on record was in 2011, when U.S. assets dropped 5,411 weapons, according to available figures dating back to 2009.
"Throughout the last year, the air component has supported multiple ongoing campaigns, deterred aggression, maintained security, and defended our networks," said Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, Combined Forces Air Component Commander, in a news release.
"We've orchestrated coalition airpower to destroy the [Islamic State] caliphate, support Iraq, and enabled significant progress in Afghanistan," Guastella said.
The months of September and November saw the most strikes against terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, in Afghanistan, with 841 weapons released each of those months.
Aircraft operating under the Combined Forces Air Component Command flew 8,196 sorties in 2018, nearly double the amount of sorties than in 2017, the data shows.
President Donald Trump in 2017 announced the U.S. would begin sending more troops to Afghanistan -- where the U.S. has been fighting its longest war in history -- to step up the fight against ISIS-K, the Taliban and the Afghan offshoot of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The Trump administration boosted force strength in the region by 3,500 troops in 2017 and 2018 in an effort to to boost the advise-and-assist mission with the Afghan military, according to the Associated Press.
While the Trump plan for Afghanistan at the time had not been fully articulated, the president made clear his preference to give more leeway to generals, allowing them to take an aggressive approach toward stamping out extremist threats.
Nicholson approved the highly publicized drop of the 21,600-pound GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) -- nicknamed "mother of all bombs" -- against IS-K in the Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province in April 2017.
It was the first time the MOAB, the highest-yielding non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal, had been used in combat.
Even as airstrikes hit a decade-long high, the Trump administration has in recent months signaled a renewed interest in negotiations with the Taliban.
Following Defense Secretary Jim Mattis's departure in December, the president has turned to additional peace negotiations with the Taliban to potentially end the 17-year-long war.
"In Afghanistan, my administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban," Trump said last week during his annual State of the Union address. "As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement -- but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace."
On Monday, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan made an unannounced visit to the country to meet with U.S. commanders and Afghan leaders.
Shanahan separately met with President Ashraf Ghani to "discuss a broad range of defense issues," the Defense Department said in a statement.
"While there he is also meeting with coalition troops in support of Afghan forces as they lead the fight to defend their country," officials said.
This article originally appeared on Military.com
More articles from Military.com:
- Airstrikes in Afghanistan See Big Spike Following Spring Surge
- General: US Moving More Airpower to Afghanistan in Strategy Shift
- Air Force's Monthly Bombing Campaign in Afghanistan Hits 5-Year High
SEE ALSO: Peace With The Taliban In Afghanistan Appears Closer Than Ever. What Could That Actually Look Like?
WATCH NEXT: The Aftermath Of The 'Mother Of All Bombs' In Afghanistan
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.
Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.
"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."
That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.