This is a welcome return to reality:
President Barack Obama has approved giving the U.S. military greater ability to accompany and enable Afghan forces battling a resilient Taliban insurgency, in a move to assist them more proactively on the battlefield, a U.S. official told Reuters.
The senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the decision would also allow greater use of U.S. air power, particularly close air support.
However, the official cautioned: "This is not a blanket order to target the Taliban."
Well, a partial return to reality rather than a blanket return, I guess.
But as I wrote recently:
Does anybody really believe that our counter-terrorism in Afghanistan could continue without the continued success of Afghan forces engaged in counter-insurgency?
If the Afghan government fell, counter-terrorism as we practice it as an intelligence driven process from lots of sources would wither and be reliant completely on remote sensing and high-flying drone strikes.
So yes, we need to help the Afghan government in their counter-insurgency fight against the Taliban who are terrorists but who do not pose a direct threat to us, and stop pretending that it is a fight that has nothing to do with our interests or our war against international terrorists.
It was insane to believe--as the administration did--that we could wage a war against international terrorists in Afghanistan while letting our Afghan friends fight a war against the Taliban who were defined by Washington, D.C. as separate from the counter-terror campaign.
I count it as progress when we try not to lose a little more energetically even if we haven't decided to win.
UPDATE: Strategypage has more on this decision and the war in general.