Trump outlines new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan
President Trump on Monday evening will spell out a new U.S. strategy for the war in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have been fighting for 16 years, and other parts of South Asia, the White House said Sunday.
Trump made his decision after meeting with his national security team at the presidential retreat at Camp David on Friday, capping months of deliberations on how to proceed in America’s longest war.
On Sunday, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters traveling with him in Amman, Jordan, that the new strategy is the result of a “rigorous” process. He declined to details on precisely what Trump will announce.
Trump will make a nationally televised statement from Ft. Myer in Virginia at 9 p.m. Monday, the White House said.
He will “provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement” in Afghanistan and South Asia, the statement said.
Mattis was authorized in June to deploy about 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, but any significant buildup has been on hold pending the broad strategic review.
Trump’s advisors had offered competing visions for bolstering Afghan forces against a resurgent Taliban.
Ousted White House strategic advisor Stephen Bannon had supported the notion of hiring private mercenaries rather than sending in more U.S. troops, as Mattis and others have urged.
With American forces in Afghanistan now numbering fewer than 10,000, Afghan forces have been shouldering the brunt of fighting but have been struggling to hold ground against the Taliban.
U.S. commanders have said extra troops could be used to help train and advise Afghan units to make them a more effective fighting force in hopes of breaking what the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, has termed a “stalemate.”
The plan is also expected to encompass U.S. dealings with other players in the Afghan conflict, including neighboring Pakistan, which has long sheltered insurgents and their allies.
Trump ran on a platform of reducing American foreign military entanglements, and during his first seven months in office, the president balked at authorizing more troops, deferring longer-term decisions on how to proceed.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted that “many decisions” had been made on how to approach the Afghan conflict.