New Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan

The US combat mission in Afghanistan is over “for all intents and purposes,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Tuesday, and while troops still retain self defense authority, after Jan. 1, 2015, the scenarios under which remaining US troops will target Taliban will change. The US plans to keep 1,000 additional personnel in the country for the first several months of Operation Resolute Support, but this does not mean they will be widely conducting combat missions against Taliban figures. “We’re not going to target Taliban just because they are Taliban,” Kirby said. “That said, a (Taliban) who undertakes missions against us, or our Afghan partners, renders himself vulnerable … for his actions. It’s about what you’re doing, not just because you’re a member of the Taliban.” As the current policy reflects, the US will retain the ability to conduct counter terrorism operations against al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan, but only when specific Taliban figures or units “directly threaten our people or our allies.” Afghan security and military forces are in “full combat lead” for all operations in the country today, he said, and any decision to utilize US troops in a combat role will be selective and driven by specific requests from Afghan authorities.