Nicholson meets downrange with jet crews, special forces

An F-16 pilot from the 555th Fighter Squadron, from Aviano Air Base, Italy, explains to Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the various ordnance used against terrorist organizations in the country. Nicholson visited pilots and airmen form the 555th at Bagram Air Field, on Saturday, May 13, 2017.


By E.B. BOYD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 15, 2017

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — Pilots and airmen from the 555th Fighter Squadron briefed the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan about air operations and the ordnance used against militants fighting government forces during his visit to this base on Saturday.

Gen. John Nicholson also met with special operations troops at the NATO Special Operations Component Command.

The 555th, deployed from Aviano Air Base in Italy, has been using F-16s in the fight against insurgent groups, including the Islamic State, which has set up a presence in eastern Afghanistan.

At the NSOCC, Nicholson received a briefing on the ground fight against ISIS and handed out coins to 18 team members who have performed with distinction.

As Afghan forces battle Taliban guerrillas, the United States has made it a priority to eradicate ISIS from the eastern part of the country before their comrades, fleeing Syria and Iraq, begin looking for safe havens.

In April, a U.S. aircraft targeted a fortified ISIS position with a GBU-43 bomb, the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat. Also last month, U.S. forces working with Afghan commandos killed the leader of the local ISIS affiliate in a raid that resulted in the death of two Army Rangers.

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Gen. John Nicholson visited troops serving with NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan, and gave coins to 18 of them in recognition of their specific contributions to the counter-terrorism fight, on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at Bagram Air Field. Name-tapes have been blurred to protect troops' identities.

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