On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford provided testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, detailing their plans for the war-torn region of Afghanistan.
A common complaint from lawmakers and troops on the ground was the restrictive rules of engagement. During his testimony, Mattis revealed that due to President Donald Trump’s decision to allow him to have more authority in the region, the rules of engagement have been loosened.
For example, troops will no longer have to be in contact with the enemy in order to fire back, and requests for air support are now going to be easier to obtain, according to Defense News.
“You see some of the results of releasing our military from, for example, a proximity requirement — how close was the enemy to the Afghan or the U.S.-advised special forces,” Mattis said. “That is no longer the case, for example. So these kind of restrictions that did not allow us to employ the airpower fully have been removed, yes.”
Mattis reiterated the change in the afternoon while speaking to the House Armed Services Committee: “We are no longer bound by the need for proximity to our forces. It used to be we have to basically be in contact with that enemy.”
The Washington Examiner reports the new rules of engagement are going to be a complaint to another change in strategy, which will put U.S. forces closer to the front lines.
The changes are in line with what Trump announced during his speech on the new administration’s plans for the conflict in Afghanistan.
“I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our warfighters that prevented the secretary of defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy,” Trump stated. “Micromanagement from Washington, D.C., does not win battles.”
Watch Mattis’s comments below.