The White House is looking to shift US troops in Afghanistan from a combat role to a primarily advisory one earlier than previously planned. While no decisions have been made yet, the possibility has been discussed at high-level meetings with defense officials, sources tell the Wall Street Journal, with some likening it to the US’ 2009 move to an “advise and assist” role in Iraq. This time, however, US troops would remain involved in combat, only under Afghan-led operations.
“It’s not like we’re … going to move to train, advise, and assist and just let the Afghans do everything on their own and we’re not fighting bad guys,” a senior defense official said. The US has had trouble training Afghan forces, and some officials say they’ve given up on having a perfect force ready by 2014—they’re just looking for one “good enough” to keep the Taliban from regaining power. The move, if it comes, could be announced at May’s NATO meeting.