US poised to expand military role in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON: In a major policy shift from the Obama administration, the United States is poised to expand its military role in Afghanistan to force an increasingly resurgent Taliban to the negotiating table, a media report said on Monday.
The plan, which still needs approval by President Trump, has been proposed by most senior military and foreign policy advisers, a Washington Post report said quoting unnamed official sources.
If approved by President Trump, the plan will put US troops once again in a fierce combat with Taliban which appeared to be gaining ground in parts of the war-torn Afghanistan.
The new policy shift is in contract to the moves by President Barack Obama to gradually limit the US military role in Afghanistan. The plan envisions an increase of at least 3,000 U.S. troops to an existing force of about 8,400. The U.S. force would also be bolstered by requests for matching troops from NATO nations, the report said.
After more than 15 years of military engagement, the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. The new proposed plan reflects the President's desire to stem the worsening security situation in Afghanistan.
The WP report claimed that the new strategy has the backing of top Cabinet officials, which envisages the Pentagon, and not the White House, to decide the number of increase in American troops and broaden their authority to carry out air strikes against Taliban targets.
President Trump, according to the report, was expected to make a final decision about the troops surge before a May 25 NATO summit in Brussels, he was expected t attend.
The President has expressed a desire to be tough on terrorism, although he has also expressed skepticism about allowing US troops to become bogged down in foreign conflicts, the report said.
The new strategy is an outcome of mounting worries over the resurgent Taliban which has gained ground in recent months and could ultimately impact ability of the United States to use Afghanistan as a base for combating militant groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State across South Asia.
While it still needs President's nod, some senior administration officials are already putting up fierce resistance, fearing that it will once again increase US military engagement with only temporary improvements.
President Trump's National Security Adviser, Gen. McMaster is said to be the driving force behind the new strategy. He was one of the main architects of troops surge in Iraq during the presidency of George W Bush, the report said.
The White House declined to comment on the report, according to the Washington Post. (APP)