President Barack Obama has approved a broader role for American troops to help Afghan forces effectively conduct anti-terrorism operations in the war-torn country, an official said on Friday.
The new powers would allow US forces to engage in similar efforts to accompany conventional Afghan security personnel when they undertook operations, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
At his daily news conference, the spokesman said: “What this would allow is US forces to be more proactive in supporting conventional Afghan forces as they take the fight to the Taliban. And this means, in some cases, offering close air support, or it means, in some cases, accompanying Afghan forces on the ground or in the air.”
Earnest said the presidential move would let Americans accompany conventional Afghan forces in certain situations, but when they’re accompanying them, they continue to remain focused on the advice-and-assist mission.
The US, he added, continued to be concerned about the security situation in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan is a dangerous country. It has been for some time now, and it still is today.
“I don’t think anybody, from the President on down, was under the illusion that after a couple of years of being responsible for the security situation of their own country, that the Afghan government and Afghan security forces would eliminate entirely the threat from the Taliban or any other extremists,” he remarked.
The White House press secretary praised the Afghan security forces for a remarkable willingness to fight for their country. The forces were resilient, even in those situations where they did encounter operational or even strategic setbacks, he acknowledged.
“That resilience and that commitment to fighting for their country has shown on the battlefield. The question I think has simply been, what else can the US do to support them in those efforts? The President feels strongly that the Afghans must remain in control of the security situation in their own country,” he said. (PAN)