Thanks to a secret order signed by President Barack Obama, U.S. troops are set to keep their boots on the ground in Afghanistan. According to a November 21 report in the New York Times, the new order allows troops to seek out and destroy enemy combatants. Their missions may include wiping out units of Taliban insurgents and allied groups, ostensibly with the help of Afghan army forces. Previous war plans limited U.S. forces to chasing down al-Qaida,
With the order, the war in Afghanistan has received a new moniker: Operation Resolute Support.
In the report by the New York Times, there had been "heated debate" within Obama's coterie of advisors over DoD demands as opposed to the president's stated purpose of closing the book on U.S. involvement in the restless Central Asian country. His decision to bump up American involvement was met with dissonance on the part of civilian advisors, according to the report.
An anonymous Obama administration official told the New York Times that “the military pretty much got what it wanted.” In addition, it was reported that American forces will continue to have an ability to take the offense to insurgent Afghani fighters. Among the elements in the U.S panoply for Resolute Support are fighter jets and B-1 bombers, as well as Predator and Reaper unmanned drones.
The new order appears to contradict Obama's promise of May 2014 in which he heralded an end to U.S combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of this year. He also said then that by this time next year that half of the remaining 9,800 troops would be withdrawn. It was said then that only a security detail, probably U.S. Marines, would be left in-country to protect the U.S consulate, but only until the end of 2016.
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