Time: 9:51 p.m. CEST
The White House confirmed the U.S. forces “now authorized to accompany conventional Afghan forces on combat operations,” the press secretary Josh Earnest said on Friday’s briefing. As Earnest explained, that stresses the U.S. forces to accompany some conventional Afghan forces. However, the forces are not being given a “combat mission” in Afghanistan, Earnest assured. The press secretary said, new authorities to the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan does not prevent the drawdown of American troops there to 5,500 by the end of the year.
President Barack Obama approved the U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan “greater ability to accompany and enable Afghan forces battling a resilient Taliban insurgency,” a U.S. officials said to Reuters, as published in an exclusive article. The new ability includes more use of the U.S. air power, or closer air support. However, as Reuters reports, the official cautioned: “This is not a blanket order to target Taliban.” This decision came 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.”
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,” Reuters publishes. The U.S. forces would not accompany Afghan soldiers on day-to-day missions.