In Break From Obama, Trump Embedding More U.S. Forces With Afghan Combat Units

In Break From Obama, Trump Embedding More U.S. Forces With Afghan Combat Units by Paul McLeary and Dan De Luce - Foreign Policy

President Donald Trump’s decision to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan has paved the way for a major expansion of the U.S. air war against the Taliban and will involve more American forces working directly with Afghan troops in combat to call in airstrikes.

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, current and former Pentagon officials told Foreign Policy.

The tactic will allow commanders to widen an already intensifying air campaign that has seen more strikes taken this year than at any point since 2012. Senior military officers say the approach of embedding American forces with Afghan units in the field is modeled on the U.S.-led air war in Iraq and Syria, where American commandos dialed in heavy firepower while local Iraqi and Kurdish forces fought the Islamic State on the ground.

As in Iraq and Syria, however, U.S. troops are being told to stop short of engaging in direct combat, letting Afghans do the fighting while the Americans hold nearby, two military officials told FP, providing tactical advice and calling in air and artillery fire.

While U.S. special operations troops will continue to take on this mission in Afghanistan, newly arrived U.S. soldiers will also spread out with small Afghan units in the field…

Read on.

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