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AFCENT Airmen Kept Pressure on Taliban, ISIS in May

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
U.S. Air Forces Central Command published its monthly Airpower Summary June 18th, highlighting U.S. and coalition airpower operations in May, 2018, in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

In Afghanistan, U.S. Airmen are involved in combat operations as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, while U.S. and NATO partners train, advise and assist the Afghan National and Defense Security Forces as part of the Resolute Support Mission.

U.S. and coalition Airmen continue fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, alongside partners including the Syrian Democratic Forces and Iraqi military forces.

The complete summary and statistics can be found here:

Operations in Afghanistan

In Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, U.S. forces kept pressure on the Taliban in May 2018, striking weapons caches, staging areas and revenue sources as part of a deliberate campaign to force the Taliban into reconciliation.

There were 591 airstrikes in May, setting a new high in Afghanistan for this calendar year. The previous high was 562 last month. Overall, U.S. aircraft flew 726 OFS sorties for the month, and 73 of those sorties included at least one weapon release.

“U.S. air operations in May put tremendous pressure on every branch of the Taliban’s network,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Combined Force Air Component Commander. “We struck Taliban leadership with precision strikes, and consistently pummeled their revenue-producing facilities, weapons caches, and staging facilities.”

Air mobility operations played a key part last month in support of U.S. and Afghan ground forces. C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules aircraft airdropped more than 190,000 pounds in support of U.S. and Afghan ground forces.

“U.S. Airmen will continue delivering airpower, developing relationships, and working closely with our joint partners and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to continue setting the conditions in Afghanistan to bring the Taliban to into negotiations with the Afghan government,” Harrigian said.

***Correction: In the April 2018 Airpower Summary, AFCENT inaccurately stated that April 2018 was the highest number of airstrikes in Afghanistan for any month since October 2011. Rather, the October 2017 total was 653. AFCENT regrets the error, our misstatement, and the subsequent confusion.***

Operations in Iraq, Syria
U.S. and coalition forces began the latest phase of the Defeat ISIS campaign, Operation Roundup, May 1, with the goal of eradicating ISIS in northeastern Syria. Combined with the Syrian Democratic Forces and Iraqi Air Force partners, coalition Airmen struck ISIS fighting positions, tunnel complexes and underground storage sites.

In addition to strikes, coalition air forces focused on performing defensive counter air missions and armed over-watch to protect ground forces and their maneuver. Coalition strike aircraft flew more than 1,400 sorties in OIR in May, the highest total since January 2018. Coalition weapons releases for May were 70% and 47% higher than April and March, respectively.

“The complete annihilation of ISIS’s so-called physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria is at hand,” Harrigian said. “In the face of a ruthless enemy and tremendous danger, our partners like the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Iraqi Air Force have demonstrated a tremendous level of commitment and professionalism in re-taking territory from ISIS and eradicating them from the battlefield.”

For the month, ISR aircraft flew almost 600 sorties in support of target development and battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance.

Aerial refueling tankers flew almost 800 sorties and offloaded more than 49 million pounds of jet fuel, enabling strike and ISR aircraft to complete their missions.

C-17s and C-130s flew 693 sorties combined and delivered almost 3,000 short tons of cargo.

“While there’s more work to be done, the progress we’ve made as a Combined force in the last month is nothing short of remarkable,” Harrigian said.