WASHINGTON: The Trump administration is allowing American troops in Afghanistan to participate in joint operations with official Afghan forces and to call in air strikes when needed, US officials say.
Several current and former Pentagon officials told Foreign Policy magazine that the Trump administration is also sending thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan to participate in these missions.
“Hundreds of American troops will accompany Afghan forces on combat missions, where they will be able to directly request bombing raids and artillery fire for their Afghan partners,” the magazine reported.
Last month, the US Air Forces Central Command reported that the number of US air strikes in Afghanistan hit a seven-year high in September as the military acted on President Donald Trump’s new strategy for the country.
US forces dropped 751 bombs against the Taliban and the militant Islamic State (IS) group targets in Afghanistan in September, an increase of 50 per cent from the 503 dropped in August and the most since the Battle of Sangin in late 2010, when more than 100 US and British troops were killed while fighting the Taliban.
Senior US military officers, who spoke to Foreign Policy, say the approach of embedding American forces with Afghan units in the field is modelled on the US-led air war in Iraq and Syria, where American commandos dialed in heavy firepower while local Iraqi and Kurdish forces fought the IS on the ground.
While US special operations troops will continue to participate in this mission in Afghanistan, newly arrived American soldiers will also spread out with with small Afghan units in the field, the magazine reported.
Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2015