“Granted military commanders new powers to assist Afghan troops”

President Obama has granted military commanders new powers to assist Afghan troops combat the Taliban, U.S. officials said, in a move that pulls the United States farther away from the president’s goal of ending the long Afghanistan conflict before he leaves office. The new measures approved by Obama late last month will permit military leaders to send U.S. troops on battlefield missions with conventional Afghan forces, broadening an activity that now occurs only with elite local troops, and will expand the use of U.S. air power for offensive missions against the Taliban. Officials said they will only be approved in limited circumstances when they are expected to have “strategic effect.” “This added flexibility is fully supported by the Afghan government, and will help the Afghans at an important moment for the country,” said a senior administration official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss decisions that have not been made public”.

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