Afghanistan has welcomed Washington’s decision to give the U.S. military greater authority to help Afghan forces battle the Taliban.
Defense Ministry spokesman Daulat Waziri told the AFP news agency on June 11 that U.S. forces’ “involvement will increase our capacity in operations on the ground.”
Waziri said: “We may not need more boots on the ground, but we need their advisors and we need them to equip our air force.”
Shah Hussain Murtazawi, a presidential spokesman was quoted by the dpa news agency as saying on June 11 that “Afghan forces indefinitely need air and ground support from our American ally, along with assistance on intelligence.”
The White House says U.S. troops are not taking on a new mission in Afghanistan but rather will “more proactively support” Afghan government forces both in the air and on the ground.
Some 9,800 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan in an advisory and training capacity.
That number is set to drop to just 5,500 by the end of 2016 but the pace of that decline has yet to be decided.