After two years of heavy casualties, the Afghan military is trying to retake the initiative in the war against militants with a new offensive next week against Daesh – an assault that will see American troops back on the battlefield working more closely with Afghan soldiers, AP reported.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently announced a major assault against fighters loyal to Daesh, who over the past year captured positions along Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan, mainly in Nangarhar province.
That goal to uproot Daesh from Afghanistan has taken on new urgency in the wake of Saturday’s deadly suicide bombing at a protest march in Kabul that killed at least 80 people.
American forces that remained shifted to a supporting role and U.S airstrikes diminished, letting the Afghan military take the lead in carrying out the war.
In an acknowledgment of the deteriorating security situation, President Barack Obama last month gave a green light to a more assertive role for U.S troops, though still short of direct combat.
In a further acknowledgement of the deteriorating security situation, Obama this month pledged to keep 8,400 troops in the country through 2017, delaying plans to reduce troop numbers to 5,500 by the end of this year.
There are currently some 9,800 U.S troops in the country.
Afghanistan’s government and military also received a boost at NATO’s summit in Warsaw this month, when the alliance agreed to fund Afghan forces through 2020.
Meanwhile, Hayatullah Hayat, Helmand provincial governor said: “If the international forces help us with air support and share with us intelligence information, I am sure that we will have even greater achievements.”
U.S Army Brigadier General Andrew Rohling, NATO commander for Helmand advisory forces said: “With President Obama’s decision to keep American soldiers here longer, now we will be able to continue to stay with the 215th Corps (Lashkar Gah). But it’s important to recognize how good the Afghan army has become in areas that coalition (forces) used to do for them.”
Colonel Sayed Mohammad Naeem, from Helmand provincial police training centre meanwhile said: “If they (foreign forces) help our security forces on time, it is one hundred percent to the advantage of Afghanistan and it is not only for the goodness of Afghanistan, it is for the goodness of the world because we are facing international terrorism. They (terrorists) are not destroying Afghanistan but they can be a cause of destruction to the whole world.”
One police trainee Ahmad Meeyakhail also appealed for more support. He said: “We ask the foreign forces to help us with air and ground support while we can still perform ground operations.”
Another trainee, Naik Mohammad, said: “If we have the air support as we had it before a couple of years ago, our operations will be more successful.”