US Troops in Afghanistan
US Troops in AfghanistanReuters File

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday agreed to give the U.S. military increased ability to assist the Afghan forces, which is battling a "resilient" Taliban insurrection. The approval is seen as a move to support the forces on the battle front.

However, a senior U.S. defence official clarified that the move was not a "blanket order" aimed at targeting the Taliban, Reuters reported. This decision would provide greater use of air power, particularly close-air support.

According to the new policy, General John Nicholson, who took over as Commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan three months ago, will now have the power to decide when the American troops would assist Afghan troops in the battlefield.

The additional powers are meant to be used "in those select instances in which their engagement can enable strategic effects on the battlefield," the U.S. defence official told the agency. In addition, this also means U.S. forces will not be expected to assist Afghan forces in day-to-day missions.

In the current scenario, the U.S. rules of engagement in Afghanistan provide restrictions in carrying out strikes on insurgents. But the new policy would enable American troops to accompany their Afghan counterparts at "key moments in their offensive campaign" against the Taliban, the Reuters report said.