American troops will remain on the ground and fighting in Afghanistan thanks to a secret order signed by President Obama, The New York Times reported Friday.
The order authorizes a more expansive role for the U.S. military in Afghanistan than Obama had previously described, allowing troops to attack militants. Missions may target the Taliban and other groups, as well as support the Afghan military.
The war in Afghanistan also will get a new name: Operation Resolute Support.
According to the Times, the order came after a "heated debate" among administration officials over Pentagon demands to fulfill missions and Obama's promise to end the war. Obama ultimately decided to expand the U.S. military role in Afghanistan in recent weeks, over the objections of some top civilian aids.
An official told the Times that "the military pretty much got what it wanted." Another official said that the U.S. will "maintain an offensive capability in Afghanistan," using F-16 fighter jets, Predator and Reaper drones, and B-1 bombers.
The order contradicts what Obama said in May, when he promised to end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. At the time, he also said that by the end of 2015 half of the remaining 9,800 troops would be withdrawn. Only a security detail for the consulate was supposed to remain by the end of 2016.