US President Donald Trump opened the door to an increase in US troops in Afghanistan as part of a retooled strategy for the region, overcoming his own doubts about America’s longest war and vowing “a fight to win.”
Trump, in a televised address at a military base near Washington, said his new approach was aimed at preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for militants bent on attacking the United States.
The Republican president, who has repeatedly criticized the Afghanistan strategies of his predecessors, now inherits the same challenges, including a resurgent Taliban and a weak government in Kabul. He is laying the groundwork for greater US involvement without a clear end in sight or providing specific benchmarks for success.
In a speech with few details, Trump did not specify how many more troops would be added, gave no timeline for ending the US presence in Afghanistan, and put pressure on Pakistan, India and NATO allies to step up their own commitment.
But officials said he had signed off on Defense Secretary James Mattis’ plans to send about 4,000 more to add to the 8,400 now deployed in Afghanistan.
He warned U.S. support was not open-ended – “our support is not a blank check” – and insisted he would not engage in “nation-building,” a practice he has accused his predecessors of doing at huge cost. “We are not nation-building. We are killing terrorists,” he said.
He said the United States will continue to support the Afghan government and security forces in their fight against terrorists and prevent the reestablishment of safe havens in the country.
US President Donald Trump said mistake of withdrawal from Iraq will not be repeated in Afghanistan.
The speech came after a months-long review of US policy in which Trump frequently tangled with his top advisers on the future of US involvement in Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents have been making territorial gains.