Afghanistan wel­comes broader US mil­i­tary role against Tal­iban

Pakistan Observer - - 07 -

KABUL—Afghanistan on Satur­day hailed Wash­ing­ton´s de­ci­sion to ex­pand the US mil­i­tary´s au­thor­ity to tackle a resur­gent Tal­iban in­sur­gency, say­ing the sup­port will boost the ca­pac­ity of strug­gling lo­cal forces.

The de­ci­sion will al­low US troops, who have been in train­ing and ad­vi­sory role in Afghanistan since the start of 2015, col­lab­o­rate more closely with lo­cal forces in strik­ing the Tal­iban.

“We wel­come the US an­nounce­ment of broader in­volve­ment in the war on ter­ror­ism in Afghanistan,” de­fence min­istry spokesman Daulat Waziri told AFP.

“We may not need more boots on the ground, but we need their ad­vi­sors and we need them to equip our air force. Their in­volve­ment will in­crease our ca­pac­ity in op­er­a­tions on the ground.”

The US an­nounce­ment comes af­ter Afghan forces, be­set by record ca­su­al­ties, de­ser­tions and troop short­ages, suf­fered a string of set­backs last year at the hands of the Tal­iban.

“We wel­come mea­sures taken by the US as our strate­gic part­ner to fight ter­ror­ism,” said deputy pres­i­den­tial spokesman Sayed Za­far Hashimi.

Some 9,800 US troops re­main in Afghanistan in an ad­vi­sory ca­pac­ity, down from a peak of around 100,000 in March 2011. That num­ber is set to drop to just 5,500 by the year´s end.

An Amer­i­can de­fence of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said de­spite the ex­pand­ing role the US troops would still not be in­volved in di­rect com­bat.

Still, the new an­nounce­ment is fraught with po­lit­i­cal sen­si­tiv­i­ties as it marks a de­par­ture from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama´s ear­lier com­mit­ment to end the grind­ing con­flict and pull US troops out of Afghanistan.—AFP

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