With War in Afghanistan over, Army prepares to send Infantry Battalion to Helmand Province
Yeah, that confused the heck outta me, too. I didn't know the Afghanistan war was over. Did we win?
It turns out that the war is still very much ongoing.
From the New York Times:
It will be the largest deployment of American troops outside major bases in Afghanistan since the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014. Though the military insists that the soldiers will not take active combat roles, American Special Operations forces have increasingly been drawn into the fighting in Helmand as one important district after another has fallen or been threatened by Taliban insurgents."the military insists that the soldiers will not take active combat roles"
I sure hope that doesn't mean they can't shoot back if someone shoots at them. Considering some of the ludicrous ROEs they had to operate under in the past, that's not a given. In fact, it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that the State Department finally got around to designating ISIS in Afghanistan as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization."
... the change now means that U.S. forces can actively pursue ISIS elements and attack them as a threat to the United States. Previous rules of engagement required ISIS elements to first pose a threat to U.S. forces in the area...
But I digress. Back to the main story.
Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the new deployment would provide protection for the current Special Operations troops in Helmand and give extra support and training for the 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army. Afghan forces in Helmand have taken heavy casualties in recent months and have been cut off by the Taliban in many places.
This seems a little oddly worded, but it looks like maybe the new troops will take over some of the force protection (i.e. Guard Towers) around base, freeing up some Special Ops guys to go do what they do best, ventilate bad guys. And maybe some will be embedded with Afghan units? It's really not too clear.
The Guardian out of UK had a bit more to note about the oddity of providing combat troops to what is not supposed to be combat:
In keeping with Barack Obama’s formal declaration that the US is not engaged in combat, despite elite forces recently participating in an hours-long battle in Helmand, defense officials said the additional troops would not take part in combat. But they will help the existing Helmand force defend itself against Taliban attacks, officials said.Clear as mud. It's awfully damn hard to accomplish the mission when no one knows what the mission is.
Sounds like another typical obama flustercluck... with our troops left holding the bag, as usual.