Don't look now, but we're at war again in Afghanistan

A year after the administration ended combat operations in Afghanistan, the White House and the Pentagon have quietly given the OK for American commanders to authorize air strikes on the Taliban and to allow joint combat operations with the Afghan army for the 9,800 U.S. troops deployed there.

If it looks like war, sounds like war, smells like war...it's war.

Washington Times:

The changes were based on the findings of a three-month review of the situation in Afghanistan, which was overseen by Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander there, and submitted to Pentagon and White House officials this month.

Before the changes made at Gen. Nicholson’s behest, American air power was authorized only when U.S. forces were under direct threat and American combat missions in the country were limited to special operations teams.

The shift in the White House strategy was a clear recognition that “what is on the ground right now just isn’t working,” said Rick Nelson, a senior counterterrorism analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

President Obama pledged to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when he announced in 2007 that he was seeking 

Mr. Nelson said the White House “has been really bad about changing military tactics” in Afghanistan, pressing ahead with plans to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country by 2017.

The latest move, however, “reflects [that Mr. Obama] is being thoughtful” about what is needed in Afghanistan to ensure the country does not devolve into a failed state, he said.

U.S. military commanders are “still in the process of operationalizing” the strategy, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Tuesday.

The changes, he said, would affect only the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, known as Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, and not the NATO-led training mission under Operation Resolute Support.

The changes approved by the White House did not constitute a return to full-fledged combat by U.S. forces inAfghanistan, Capt. Davis said. Rather, the shift would allow U.S. forces to provide “strategic effects enabling the [Afghan National Security Forces]” to take on the Taliban and other Islamist groups during the fighting season, he said.

U.S. airstrikes, as well as American and Afghan combat missions, would be limited to areas of Afghanistan where local forces need the most help, Capt. Davis said.

The U.S. mission will “not be something where we will be doing this everywhere,” he said.

More muddled thinking from the White House.  The reason we need to restart combat operations is because the Afghan national security forces have utterly failed to secure their country.  So, by definition, the U.S. will, indeed, be "doing this everywhere" as the Taliban is systematically taking over territory previous liberated by U.S. forces.

There are also independent actors trying to kill Americans, including al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network.  Our people are going to be busy fending them off as well.

President Obama was re-elected, at least in part, because he "ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."  We now are militarily engaged in both countries, stamping an ironic coda on the disastrous presidency of Barack Obama.

A year after the administration ended combat operations in Afghanistan, the White House and the Pentagon have quietly given the OK for American commanders to authorize air strikes on the Taliban and to allow joint combat operations with the Afghan army for the 9,800 U.S. troops deployed there.

If it looks like war, sounds like war, smells like war...it's war.

Washington Times:

The changes were based on the findings of a three-month review of the situation in Afghanistan, which was overseen by Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander there, and submitted to Pentagon and White House officials this month.

Before the changes made at Gen. Nicholson’s behest, American air power was authorized only when U.S. forces were under direct threat and American combat missions in the country were limited to special operations teams.

The shift in the White House strategy was a clear recognition that “what is on the ground right now just isn’t working,” said Rick Nelson, a senior counterterrorism analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

President Obama pledged to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when he announced in 2007 that he was seeking 

Mr. Nelson said the White House “has been really bad about changing military tactics” in Afghanistan, pressing ahead with plans to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country by 2017.

The latest move, however, “reflects [that Mr. Obama] is being thoughtful” about what is needed in Afghanistan to ensure the country does not devolve into a failed state, he said.

U.S. military commanders are “still in the process of operationalizing” the strategy, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Tuesday.

The changes, he said, would affect only the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, known as Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, and not the NATO-led training mission under Operation Resolute Support.

The changes approved by the White House did not constitute a return to full-fledged combat by U.S. forces inAfghanistan, Capt. Davis said. Rather, the shift would allow U.S. forces to provide “strategic effects enabling the [Afghan National Security Forces]” to take on the Taliban and other Islamist groups during the fighting season, he said.

U.S. airstrikes, as well as American and Afghan combat missions, would be limited to areas of Afghanistan where local forces need the most help, Capt. Davis said.

The U.S. mission will “not be something where we will be doing this everywhere,” he said.

More muddled thinking from the White House.  The reason we need to restart combat operations is because the Afghan national security forces have utterly failed to secure their country.  So, by definition, the U.S. will, indeed, be "doing this everywhere" as the Taliban is systematically taking over territory previous liberated by U.S. forces.

There are also independent actors trying to kill Americans, including al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network.  Our people are going to be busy fending them off as well.

President Obama was re-elected, at least in part, because he "ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."  We now are militarily engaged in both countries, stamping an ironic coda on the disastrous presidency of Barack Obama.