“We are getting close. We’re getting very close. It’s a very big decision for me,” Trump said referring to the U.S. strategy on Afghanistan.
Trump Close To Making Decision On Afghan Strategy
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was "very close" to deciding whether he will approve a plan to deploy more troops in Afghanistan.
“We are getting close. We’re getting very close. It’s a very big decision for me,” Trump told reporters on Thursday at Bedminster in New Jersey.
“I took over a mess, and we’re going to make it a lot less messy. But that has been a place—17 years, our longest war, I read in one of your columns. And, frankly, it’s going to be a decision that’s going to be made very soon,” Trump said, without giving a timeline for the policy review.
The State Department said the U.S.’ Afghan strategy review is still underway.
“There have been a lot of conversations and negotiations with the President’s National Security Team. Of course, that includes Secretary (of State) Tillerson as part of that,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
“We are looking at this as not just a solution to Afghanistan, but also a broader concern that incorporates India and Pakistan as well as a regional solution. We just don’t have that plan,” she said in response to a question.
The U.S. Senator John McCain on Thursday revealed his own strategy for the United States in Afghanistan.
McCain's Afghan strategy includes adding more U.S. troops for counter terrorism missions; increasing U.S. air power to assist Afghan forces; and providing the U.S. military with broader authority to target enemy forces including the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al-Qaeda and Daesh.
McCain also would have the U.S. military advising Afghan forces at the Kandak, or battalion level.
McCain wants his country to enter into an agreement with the Afghan government for an enduring U.S. counterterrorism presence in Afghanistan, and he wants to put more pressure on Pakistan to stop providing sanctuaries to the Taliban and Haqqani Network.
McCain has repeatedly criticized Trump and his national security team for failing to come up with a strategy for Afghanistan.
Currently, there are about 8,400 US troops and another 5,000 forces of NATO on the ground in Afghanistan to train and assist local forces against extremists, and conduct counter-terrorism missions.