American troops will no longer have to fight the Taliban with one hand tied behind their back.
On the orders of General Petraeus, coalition troops now have the authority to “pursue the enemy relentlessly.” That means, among other things, that the rules restricting air strikes and artillery strikes will be relaxed to allow NATO forces to fire on terrorist targets in abandoned or dilapidated buildings. The new order sees Petraeus put his first stamp on Afghan war policy since replacing General McChrystal, and it signals his clear belief that coalition forces could win this war only if they are allowed to fight back against an enemy that strikes without warning and hides behind civilians.
For Petraeus, this is all a difficult task. The NATO forces in Afghanistan are there at the behest of the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai. Karzai has proven a difficult ally, corrupt and of questionable loyalty, but in the morass of Afghan politics, mired in tribal and religious intrigue, Karzai is, for better or worse, the West’s man in Kabul.