- Pentagon given authority to ramp up troop levels, US military will not talk numbers
- Military given greater autonomy to attack Taliban & other groups
- End goal is to find political solution to Afghan war
- Trump called on Pakistan to stop providing a safe-haven for terrorists
- US wants to win in Afghanistan, but not interested in nation building
Key pieces of Trump’s Afghanistan plan
- President Donald Trump outlined his plan for the 16-year US war in Afghanistan Monday evening, vowing that the US would find victory while no longer “nation-building.”
- The speech on Monday night August 21 2017 (Tuesday morning in India) focused primarily on Afghanistan.
- President Trump declared he would no longer announce troop levels
- President Trump would focus on allowing US forces to target Taliban and other terrorist groups wherever they were in Afghanistan.
Here are the five key pieces of Trump’s Afghanistan plan:
- Pres Trump is giving Pentagon authority to ramp up troop levels in Afghanistan
- Trump declared US military would not talk specifically about troop levels there.
- Conditions on ground, not arbitrary timetables to guide US strategy
- America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out: Trump
- US currently has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan
- Few thousand more troops would help US break current stalemate against Taliban
- Additional troops to serve in 2 roles: counterterrorism missions & training Afghan forces
- US was committed to working with the Afghan government
- US support to Afghanistan “is not a blank check.”
More military autonomy
- Trump announced to relax US authorities to attack Taliban & other terrorist groups
- Obama administration placed restrictions on US offensive operations in Afghanistan
- Restrictions have frequently frustrated US commanders in field in Afghanistan
- “Micromanagement from Washington, DC, does not win battles”: Pres Trump
- Would give military commanders the authority to act in real time: Pres Trump
- Trump expands authorities for US armed forces to target terrorists in Afghanistan
- “Retribution will be fast and powerful.”: Pres Trump
- End-goal of Trump’s plan in Afghanistan was to bring the Taliban to negotiating table
- Aim is to find a political solution to the Afghan war
- The goal was the same as that of President Barack Obama,
- Trump argued his plan has a key difference from that of his predecessor: no timelines on withdrawal of US troops.
- “I’ve said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce the dates we intend to begin or end military operations,” Trump said.
- His criticism is one that Republicans frequently raised during the Obama administration, as Obama withdrew troops down to the current level of approximately 8,400.
- While Trump talked about a political solution, he also expressed skepticism the Taliban would come to the negotiating table.
- “Someday after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen,” Trump said.
- Trump echoed comments from his predecessors in their desire to get Pakistan to change its terrorist-harboring ways.
- Pakistan’s role in providing a safe haven for Haqqani network has frequently been a thorn in side of US military
- Trump threatened to cut off US aid to Pakistan to persuade them to help fight terrorism in Afghanistan.
- “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting,” Trump said.
- Trump also talked about how India, a nuclear rival of Pakistan, could contribute to the Afghan war effort.
- He noted the billions of dollars in trade between India and the US and said his administration wanted India to help more on Afghanistan, particularly with economic assistance and development.
Winning … but not nation-building
- When Obama talked about war in Afghanistan, he focused on bringing US troops home. Trump made clear he wants victory there.
- “Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win,” Trump said.
- “From now on, victory will have a clear definition, attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.”
- But the key thing Trump made clear to move away from — a nod to the isolationist wing of his supporters who backed a US pullout from Afghanistan — was nation-building.
- “We want them to succeed, but we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in far-away lands or try to rebuild other countries in our own image,” Trump said. “Those days are now over.”
- Trump said bluntly that the US was “not nation-building again.”
- To finish the point, he added: “We are killing terrorists.”
Notable lines from Trump’s Afghan strategy speech at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia
- President Trump laid out strategy in Afghanistan in an address to nation Monday night
- US to boost troop levels in Afghanistan to an unspecified degree
- Conditions “on the ground,” instead of timetables, would guide strategy: Pres Trump
- Trump laid out in broad strokes how he intends to deal with Pak & South Asia region
- “When one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together”
- “I share the American people’s frustration”
- When speaking about length of US efforts in Afghanistan, Trump said he “shared” the frustration.
- Trump is the third President in 16 years to have a stake in the Afghan War
“My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life, I heard decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office”
- Trump noted that he had originally wanted to pull troops from Afghanistan, but instead worked alongside his national security team to construct a comprehensive plan that would not create a potential vacuum for terror cells.
“The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable.”
- If US were to pull troops from Afghanistan, it could create power vacuum for terrorists
- Trump alluded to gains that such organizations made when US removed troops from Iraq.
- There are currently about 8,400 US troops deployed in Afghanistan.
“A core pillar in of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions”
- Trump said this was one of his new strategy’s core pillars.
- US would try to use methods beyond military intervention to support for Afghan govt
- President called out Pakistan’s harboring of terrorist & militant groups
- Trump has insisted that US would no longer tolerate Pakistan’s harboring of terrorist
- US would ensure military personnel would have tools needed to execute missions
“We are not nation-building again; we are killing terrorists”
- Trump said it was ultimately up to the people in Afghanistan to be successful.
“We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge”
- To try to achieve this, Trump said he would expand authority for the US to target criminal and terrorist networks in Afghanistan.