CBSN

U.S. troop killed on joint patrol with Afghan forces

A U.S. Military service member was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan’s tumultuous Helmand province on Tuesday, the American command in the country said in a statement.

The statement from U.S. Forces - Afghanistan said the troop, who remained unidentified pending notification of family members, was “killed conducting Train, Advise, Assist activities with Afghan counterparts.”

One other American service member and six Afghan troops were wounded when the joint patrol triggered the IED in the Lashkar Gah district.  The injured American was in stable condition, the military said.

“We are deeply saddened by this loss, but remain committed to helping our Afghan partners provide a brighter future for themselves and their children,” Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of USFOR-A and the Resolute Support mission, said in the statement.

The U.S. currently has about 9,800 troops in Afghanistan. Earlier, the U.S. had planned to reduce the number of troops from 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of 2016, but a resurgent Taliban changed the White House’s thinking.  

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in July that a decision to give U.S. commandersmore authority to work with Afghan troops and strike the Taliban would maximize the use and effectiveness of American forces in Afghanistan.  

Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, said last month he would have 3,000 U.S. troops working as advisers in Afghanistan, 2,150 troops doing counterterrorism and 3,300 working in a supporting role as enablers. In addition, he said he would keep “some hundreds” of forces “over the horizon” out of the country that would be considered part of the NATO mission to advise and assist Afghan forces.

Nicholson also said he was making daily use of the expanded authorities President Obama had granted him in June to work with Afghan forces and to conduct offensive operations against the Taliban under certain circumstances.

Obama announced at the beginning of July that he would keep 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after this year, rather than cut their numbers to 5,500 as he once planned.