Clearing the way for a bigger US role in Afghanistan. A defense official exclusively telling Reuters that President Barack Obama is giving American troops new powers there. Which could allow aggressive targeting of Taliban forces. Sources say it may mean for US air power in the country, but say it's, quote, not a blanket order to target the Taliban.
Reuters' Josh Smith in Kabul reports it signals a return to broader US military might on the ground.>> From the beginning of his campaign for president, Obama has vowed to end the war in Afghanistan. That's proven easier said than done as the Taliban remain as strong as ever in many ways.
Back in 2010, Obama dispatched tens of thousands of new American troops here. It's unclear whether a more engaged American presence here can make any difference in a way that the hundreds of thousands of troops that were here before couldn't.>> It'll be up to the U.S. commander in Afghanistan to decide when U.S. forces can pitch in to help ordinary Afghan soldiers in battle.
That may be key to strategy against the insurgency.>> The presence of coalition troops in places like Kunduz and where the Taliban have made a lot of gains has been seen as key to preventing the Taliban from completely overrunning Afghan troops in those areas. So with more coalition troops on the ground, it is likely that commanders see that as a way to keep up the morale of Afghan troops, as well as help them in technical ways calling in airstrikes and providing more resources to them.
>> Obama's choice is a break from the current rules in Afghanistan, that limit American forces' ability to strike at militants. Only allowing them to engage in defensive tactics. Now they will be able to support Afghans as they go on the offensive against a growing insurgency.