President Barack Obama gave military commanders in Afghanistan permission this week to go after terrorists linked to either al Qaeda or the Islamic State group offshoot known as ISIS-Khorasan.
The Marine Times reported, however, that he refrained from designating the Taliban a “hostile force,” meaning that soldiers in Afghanistan cannot also pursue and attack Taliban insurgents unless they directly threaten U.S. personnel.
This presents quite the conundrum, given that according to CNN, the Taliban has been gaining strength in Helmand Province, where last month it gained control of huge swaths of Sangin, a key district in Afghanistan.
That said, this move for the most part still represents a step in the right direction for our soldiers in Afghanistan, who previously were only allowed to target Islamic State group militants who directly threatened them.
Obama reportedly provided this permission after some members of the Islamic State group formed their own offshoot earlier this month. This faction contains an estimated 1,000 to 3,000 fighters.
Many of those members were believed to have been former members of the Taliban. Given this clear-cut link to the Taliban, it seems even more odd that Obama refused to designate the Taliban a “hostile force.”