>> After Donald Trump promised a fight to win in Afghanistan, US Air Force pilots are bracing for what could become an unlimited offensive against the Taliban. Reuters correspondent, Josh Smith, visited Bagram Airfield, the largest US Air Force base in the country.>> Obviously, Trump laid out a very broad goal of increasing pressure on the Taliban here in Afghanistan.
Pilots here said that they expect that to possibly mean more strikes in recent months those strikes have increased already to numbers that we've not seen since the surge back in 2011, 2012. And so those pilots say that they expect to take those numbers and increase them even further as they increase strikes on both Islamic State and the Taliban.
>> American air strikes in Afghanistan have already more than doubled under Trump with more than 2,200 this year alone. Part of the reason is that the president is relaxing rules on launching attacks against the Taliban and other insurgents like Islamic State, meaning bombings now happen almost daily.>> While American officials here would not specify what kind of authorities or restrictions Trump plans to change.
The top US commander here, General John Nicholson, has said that there will be expanded air strikes in support of Afghan troops, who are mainly fighting the Taliban. So one of the things that we do expect is that there will be, perhaps, greater authority granted to American commanders to increasingly, once again, target the Taliban.
>> Driving militants into hiding is seen as key to helping Afghan security forces hold territory. And according to pilots, the Taliban is a much harder target than ISIS. They say the group's local influence has helped them outlast years of heavy bombardment, a view echoed by a Taliban spokesman who recently brushed off the new surge in US airstrikes telling Reuters the group has grown used to dodging American bombs.