Accessibility links

Commander: U.S. Support For Afghans Could Be 'Game-Changer'

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says President Barack Obama's decision to allow greater military action in support of Afghan combat operations against Taliban militants could have a major effect on the war.

General John Nicholson said near Kabul on July 16 that Obama's decision will encourage Afghan forces to be more aggressive and added that "armies win [while] on the offense."

Obama had previously prohibited U.S. forces from targeting the Taliban except in exceptional situations but changed course last month when he decided to allow U.S. forces to use air strikes and other military assets against Taliban fighters if it is in support of Afghan government forces.

"The ability to help the Afghan security forces when they are on the offense is really where we want to be, because when they have the initiative...that's how they're going to be successful," Nicholson said in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press.

Obama announced recently that 8,400 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan when his term ends in January.

There currently are about 9,800 U.S. troops in the country.

Based on reporting by AP