American forces in Afghanistan expect to receive more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets as the winding down of combat in Iraq and Syria frees up those systems for other uses, a U.S. general said Dec. 12.

“As those assets become available and come to us, we’ll, of course, be able to leverage them and use them to full effect,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch, director of future operations for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

An Afghan flag flies over an observation post, Pekha Valley, Achin District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, Oct. 19, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Matthew DeVirgilio)
An Afghan flag flies over an observation post in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan.. (U.S. Army photo)

Bunch, who spoke via satellite from Kabul to reporters at the Pentagon, said ISR has been crucial to recent efforts to find and strike Taliban drug labs and other targets.

Defense Secretary James Mattis testified before a Senate panel in October that the U.S. military had stepped up air strikes against enemy forces in Afghanistan as part of the Trump administration’s new strategy for the war-torn country (Defense Daily, Oct. 3).

While the United States has used bombers and fighter jets in recent operations in Afghanistan, Bunch said no decision has been made about whether to move U.S. Air Force A-10 attack aircraft there. But he said that the Afghan Air Force’s new A-29 Super Tucano light-attack planes, provided by Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) and Embraer, have been “very successful” in striking ground targets.

The U.S. Air Force recently announced that it plans to buy six more A-29s for the Afghan Air Force, increasing the fleet to 26 planes (Defense Daily, Oct. 26).