UNLIKE President Obama, Donald Trump isn’t afraid to utilize America’s military forces to get the job done in Afghanistan.
Following years of having their hands tied by the Obama administration, CIA paramilitary forces—sometimes known as “Tier One” units—are now gearing up to expand their operations in Afghanistan to hunt down and kill high-ranking members of the Taliban.
The New York Times reports that President Trump has given the CIA, along with U.S. special operations forces collaborating with the agency the go-ahead to perform missions in the mountainous, war-torn region. These hunter-killer teams have been tasked to seek out and kill Taliban terrorists, bomb-makers and militants across the country and even call in for airstrikes when necessary.
The loosened restrictions on ground operations in Afghanistan are part of the Trump administration’s move to take decisive action against the Taliban, which continues to oppress the civilian populace of Afghanistan while posing a threat to countries abroad. Trump previously loosened rules against CIA drone strikes, which will now allow for some civilian casualties relative to the importance of their targets, which usually hide among civilian collaborators, who serve as human shields.
The new approach in Afghanistan will also be based on win conditions rather than a set timeline, using an overall strategy to push Taliban militants back into negotiations with the country’s official government. At present, the Taliban controls more territory than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2001, so they have no reason to relinquish control to the government.
In addition to the new strategy, Secretary of Defence James Mattis has authorized the deployment of 3,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
The rules of engagement have also been altered, which now allow for airstrikes on Taliban militants anywhere in Afghanistan, regardless of whether they target U.S. or Afghan National Security Forces. Previously under Obama, the U.S. military and the CIA were not authorized to conduct airstrikes unless it was in self-defense. This allowed Taliban militants to operate freely throughout the country.
The decision to implement the new approach comes following an increase in violence in recent months by the Taliban on Afghan security forces and police. According to a United Nations report, a record number of civilians, 1662, were killed in the first half of the year.
CIA’s new director Mike Pompeo supports Trump’s decision. Speaking at a security conference this month at the University of Texas, he stated: “We can’t perform our mission if we’re not aggressive. This is unforgiving, relentless. You pick the word. Every minute, we have to be focused on crushing our enemies.”
“If we are not out pushing the envelope, the agency simply will not succeed,” he said.
Pompeo’s remarks follow Trump’s speech in late August, when the President declared: “The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms. Retribution will be fast and powerful.”