The president recently authorized new rules and an increased mission for the U.S. military in Afghanistan for 2015.
In May, President Obama announced that the U.S. military and its remaining force of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan would move to a non-combat role in 2015. The president said that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan would be limited to training Afghan forces and aiding them in hunting the remnant forces of Al Qaeda. Now the Obama administration is calling for American troops to have a direct fighting role in Afghanistan for at least another year.
The decision to change that mission pitted two imperatives of the Obama administration against each other. One was the promise that President Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan. The other comes from the demands of the Pentagon that American service members be able to successfully fulfill their remaining missions in the country. With the collapse of Iraq’s security forces against the Islamic State following the president’s ordered U.S. withdrawal, the pressure put on by Pentagon officials apparently won out.
The president’s new order will allow American forces to carry out missions against militant groups threatening U.S. personnel or the Afghan government. It also allows the use of jets, bombers and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s, commonly called drones) to support Afghan forces on combat missions.
Many Veterans of the Iraq Campaign feel that their mission was left unaccomplished, after the hasty U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2009. Many Veterans wanted their generation to achieve, once and for all, what they felt could have been attained in 1991. GWOT-era service members wanted to be the last generation of Americans to fight in Iraq, preventing their children and future generations from having to return to Iraq, as they did following Desert Storm. With the 2014 takeover of territory by the Islamic State, it appears that the Iraq Campaign Veterans will not get their wish.
But there is a chance to prevent circumstances in Afghanistan from repeating. By allowing combat missions to continue through 2015, members of the U.S. military can further secure Afghanistan, train and assist their security forces, and help ensure that this is the last generation of Americans to fight in Afghanistan, not just a hasty end to the first wave of wars.
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Military Connection: 2015 Mission in Afghanistan: By Joe Silva