Pentagon gets authority to carry out offensive operations against extremist group
The White House has given the Pentagon legal authority to target Islamic State in Afghanistan, the first such authorization for military action against the extremist group outside Iraq and Syria, senior administration officials said, in a sign of how the fight has broadened.
The move came in response to a request in December by Defense Secretary Ash Carter for broader authority to expand the fight against Islamic State in the country as the group’s strength grows there, stretching the legal mandate of American forces to include offensive action.
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Until now, such action by U.S. forces in the country technically has been limited to targeting al Qaeda and the Taliban—not Islamic State, whose operations primarily have been focused in Iraq and Syria. Only in cases in which commanders believed U.S. forces in Afghanistan were in danger could they conduct operations against members of the militant group, who just months ago were seen as establishing a sleepy outpost with only loose affiliations to Islamic State.
The new military authorization represents a turnabout for President Barack Obama, who entered office in 2009 with the intention of concluding the war in Afghanistan, but faces the prospect of deeper U.S. involvement there during his remaining year on the job. Last year, Mr. Obama decided to leave roughly 9,800 American troops now in Afghanistan through most of 2016. Under the original plan, about half of those troops would have returned home by the end of 2015.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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