Obama broadens mission in Afghanistan

2014-11-22 14:15
President Barack Obama. (Mindaugas Kulbis, AP)

President Barack Obama. (Mindaugas Kulbis, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - President Barack Obama has quietly approved guidelines in recent weeks to allow the Pentagon to target Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, broadening previous plans that had limited the military to counter-terrorism missions against al-Qaeda after this year, US officials say.

The president's decisions also allow the military to conduct air support for Afghan operations when needed, the officials said late on Friday. Obama issued the guidelines in recent weeks, as the American combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, thousands of troops return home, and the military prepares for narrower counter-terrorism and training mission for the next two years.

Obama's moves expand on what had been previously planned for next year. One US official said the military could only go after the Taliban if it posed a threat to American forces or provided direct support to al-Qaeda, while the latter could be targeted more indiscriminately.

"To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to al-Qaeda, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe," the official said.

The Taliban's presence in Afghanistan far exceeds that of al-Qaeda, adding significance to Obama's authorisation. The president's decision came in response to requests from military commanders who wanted troops to be allowed to continue to battle the Taliban, the US officials said.

The New York Times first reported the new guidelines. Officials confirmed details to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss Obama's decisions by name.

The decision to expand the military's authority does not impact the overall number of US troops that will remain in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, Obama ordered the American force presence to be cut to 9 800 by the end of this year, a figure expected to be cut in half by the end of 2015.

The president wants all US troops to be out of Afghanistan a year later, as his presidency draws to a close.

Some of the Obama administration's planning for the post-2014 mission was slowed by a political stalemate in Afghanistan earlier this year. It took months for the winner of the country's presidential election to be certified, delaying the signing of a bilateral security agreement that was necessary in order to keep US forces in the country after December.

In Kabul, officials with the Afghan defence ministry declined to comment Saturday, while officials with the presidency could not be reached.

However, Afghan military analyst Jawed Kohistani said the move likely would be welcomed as President Ashraf Ghani's new administration upon taking office immediately signed a deal with the US to allow a residual force of 12 000 foreign troops in the country.

"We have heard from many military officers who are involved in direct fighting with the Taliban and other insurgents that still there is a need for more cooperation, there is need for an ongoing US combat mission and there is need for US air support for the Afghan security forces to help them in their fight against the insurgents," Kohistani said.

Read more on:    taliban  |  barack obama  |  us  |  afghanistan

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
15 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.