US forces have been in an advisory position in Afghanistan for the reason that begin of 2015 and had been solely licensed to hit Taliban targets for defensive causes, or to guard Afghan troops.
The modifications imply US troops can now work extra intently with native fighters in hanging the Taliban.
“That is utilizing the forces we’ve … in a greater manner, mainly, as we undergo this combating season, quite than being merely reactive,” Pentagon chief Ashton Carter stated.
“This makes good sense. It s a great use of the fight energy that we’ve there.”
A senior administration official advised AFP that US forces will extra proactively assist Afghans, and outlined plans to offer extra shut air assist and accompany Afghan forces on the battlefield.
However “this doesn’t imply a blanket order to focus on the Taliban,” the official cautioned.
Obama was elected in 2008, promising to finish considered one of America s longest and most grueling wars.
The primary US troops arrived in Afghanistan 15 years in the past, after the Taliban authorities refused to show over Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 assaults, and greater than 2,000 US personnel have died within the ensuing struggle.
Afghan safety forces final yr took the lead in making certain safety throughout the nation, however suffered a devastating string of setbacks by the hands of the Taliban.
Some 9,800 US troops stay in Afghanistan in an advisory capability, down from a peak of round 100,000 in March 2011. That quantity is ready to drop to simply 5,500 by the yr s finish.
Presently, US forces are primarily confined to ministries or bases. Solely particular forces help their Afghan counterparts on the battlefield.
A US protection official, talking on situation of anonymity, stated the modifications imply US troops can now embed with all Afghan troop items, not simply their particular forces.
Nonetheless, he stated, US troops received t be combating on the entrance traces towards the Taliban, and can keep in an advisory position.
“Our mission is similar,” Carter stated. “Which is to assist the Afghans keep management of the nation and to keep away from having a counter-terrorism problem as soon as once more from Afghanistan.”
The marketing campaign to neutralize the Taliban has suffered a number of setbacks within the twilight of Obama s presidency and Afghanistan s fledgling safety forces have struggled within the face of bloody Taliban assaults.
Greater than 5,000 Afghan troops died final yr alone, prompting Obama to indefinitely postpone the withdrawal of US troops.
Afghan authorities on Wednesday recovered the bullet-ridden our bodies of 12 safety officers captured by the Taliban in japanese Ghazni province. Gunmen kidnapped 40 others.
Native assist for US efforts has been undermined by the unintended killing of Afghan civilians.
Final yr, US missile strikes on a hospital in Kunduz killed 46 folks and prompted worldwide outrage.
On the identical time, diplomatic efforts to interact the Taliban seem to have damaged down.
America killed Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a drone strike in Pakistan final month.
Obama then warned that the group s new management would battle on.
“We anticipate the Taliban will proceed an agenda of violence,” he stated throughout a go to to Japan.
Obama s newest Afghan choice would seem to push any brokered answer properly past his presidency.
But it surely may additionally considerably increase Afghan forces, who presently have restricted shut air-support capacities.
That would assist bridge the hole earlier than the supply of dozens of A-29 Tremendous Tucano plane over the following 18 months.
“We’re going to do what we will to allow Afghan forces to realize strategic results on the battlefield,” a second US protection official advised AFP.
“What we’re doing now could be looking on the battle area and ensuring we offer the issues we will,” he added.
“It s not nearly a large blanket to strike the Taliban every time we wish. It s in regards to the core mission of defending the ANDSF (Afghan Nationwide Protection and Safety Drive).”