The American military has been regularly conducting airstrikes against insurgent forces and sending Special Operations troops directly into harm’s way under the guise of “training and advising,” despite President Obama declaring months ago that the war against the Taliban was over in Afghanistan.
According to the New York Times, administration officials are assuring that the troops’ role only include tracking down the remaining members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and training and advising the Afghan security forces.
In fact, officials have emphasized the Taliban are not being singled out unless it is for “force protection” meaning the insurgents were immediately threatening American forces. However, interviews with American and Western officials in Kabul and Washington show a more aggressive range of military presence against the Taliban recently.
Gen. John F. Campbell, the top American commander in Afghanistan, states that it is his mission to target Taliban insurgents who pose a threat to not only American or NATO troops, but to Afghan security forces as well. Instead of the war in Afghanistan ending, the American military is using this opportunity to use its wide latitude into a continuing campaign of airstrikes.
Most of these are carried out by drone missions and Special Operations raids that have in stretched or broken the barriers set up by the White House.
The Taliban are continuing to make significant gains in what can be described as a troubling stretch for Afghan forces. A large number of the nation’s military and police forces were killed by insurgents last year and things have only worsened in the beginning of 2015. According to one Afghan official and one Western official, the casualty rate rose 54% over the same period last year.
In the hectic environment of Kunduz, where the Afghan Army has been forced to send thousands of reinforcements to beat back a major Taliban offensive, military officials have been reluctant to let go of the war.
The military is allowed to send Special Forces trainers at the ground level, but are not permitted to advance on the target with their Afghan counterparts. However, in hostile areas those restrictions don’t mean much.
An example would be this month when an American Special Forces soldier was shot in the chest while he was advising Afghan commandos. Luckily, the soldier was wearing body armor and survived.
The Obama administration officials have rejected claims when confronted with reports of the role American combat in Afghanistan. An example of this is when White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest sought to discredit a New York Times article stating President Obama approved an expanded combat authorization for American forces in Afghanistan in 2015.
“The U.S. military will not be engaged in specific operations targeting members of the Taliban just because they’re members of the Taliban,” said Earnest.
However, on Sunday, a spokesman at the National Security Council issues a statement that broadened the circumstances. He claimed that American forces can provide combat support to Afghan troops “in limited circumstances to prevent detrimental strategic effects to these Afghan security forces.”
This article is based upon information provided by