Mark Collins – POTUS Bites a Bullet, Loosens US Forces in Afghanistan Somewhat

Further to this post,

Most Recent US Afghan Commander Pushes Back at POTUS

the president Obama recognizes that the US military needs to be more active and forward vs the Talibs:

Obama approves broader role for U.S. forces in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama has approved giving the U.S. military greater ability to accompany and enable Afghan forces battling a resilient Taliban insurgency, in a move to assist them more proactively on the battlefield, a U.S. official told Reuters.

The senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the decision would also allow greater use of U.S. air power, particularly close air support.

Obama’s decision again redefines America’s support role in Afghanistan’s grinding conflict, more than a year after international forces wrapped up their combat mission and shifted the burden to Afghan troops.

It also comes ahead of Obama’s eagerly anticipated decision on whether to forge ahead with a scheduled reduction in the numbers of U.S. troops from about 9,800 currently to 5,500 by the start of 2017 [don’t forget that there also several thousand non-US troops–no Canadians–in the NATO mission (that lack of Canadians has been noticed in terms of a possible larger Canadian Army contribution with NATO in eastern Europe)].

A group of retired generals and senior diplomats urged Obama last week to forgo those plans, warning they could undermine the fight against the Afghan Taliban, whose leader was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan last month.

Under the new policy, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, will be able to decide when it is appropriate for American troops to accompany conventional Afghan forces into the field – something they have so far only been doing with Afghan special forces, the official said.

The expanded powers are only meant to be employed “in those select instances in which their engagement can enable strategic effects on the battlefield,” the official said.

That means that U.S. forces should not be expected to accompany Afghan soldiers on day-to-day missions.

However, the official cautioned: “This is not a blanket order to target the Taliban.”..

One supposes POTUS wants to leave it to the next president to be the one who loses Afghanistan–or not.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s