Donald Trump expanding US military action in Afghanistan

Donald Trump expanding US military action in Afghanistan

By Peter Freestone and Kristina Rosengren

 

US President Donald Trump has committed an undisclosed number of troops to Afghanistan, in a bid to halt the resurgence of the Taliban and other anti-government forces.

 

Key points:

  • Increasing troops in Afghanistan by 50 percent
  • Pressuring Pakistan to take a more proactive role in uncovering terrorist organisations within its borders
  • Backflip from Mr Trump regarding an election promise to immediately withdraw from Afghanistan
  • The President will not reveal details about when the US will launch attacks

 

Mr Trump made the announcement from the military base at Fort Myer southwest, in a nationally televised speech to the United States, which was also broadcast worldwide.

In the address he said he had studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every angle, and had arrived at fundamental conclusions about America’s core interests in the country.

He admitted that withdrawing from the conflict would be a mistake, and used his first prime-time broadcast on a specific policy issue, to outline the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia.

It marked a departure from a previous position for the President, who had called for a “speedy withdrawal” from the war before taking office.

Mr Trump had also previously denounced Afghanistan as a total disaster and had argued that the conflict is draining resources.

But the President said America’s gradual withdrawal, which began during the Obama administration, was too rapid, and allowed the Taliban to take advantage of the void left by departing military personnel.

Military leadership have also voiced concerns of a rapidly deteriorating security situation, as allied forces continue to suffer setbacks against the Taliban and al-Qaeda on the battlefield.

Mr Trump said he now believed it is important to avoid the mistakes made in Iraq, and declared the US would be working with the Afghan government to see progress in the middle east.

“America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field…We are a partner and a friend,” He said.

 

Despite the new military commitment to Afghanistan however, Mr Trump said it was not his government’s intention to rebuild the country in the image of the United States.

“Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society and to achieve an everlasting peace…We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists,” the US president said.

While the President declined to discuss the number of troops or further military activities outlined for Afghanistan, the White House had leaked details of a plan to increase troops by nearly 50 percent, prior to the national address.

This would include a 4000 person increase, on top of an estimated 8400 American troops currently stationed in the Middle Eastern country.

Mr Trump also refused to comment on further military activity, which he said would give the enemy an upper hand.

The US President also used Tuesday’s address, to call on Pakistan to be more proactive in finding terror groups within their borders.

“In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner…But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” said the President.

The plan in Afghanistan also includes expanding authority for the US to target criminal and terrorist networks in the middle eastern country.

Mr Trump said success in Afghanistan will be determined by conditions on the ground and will not be dictated by a specific timeline.

However, many Foreign policy experts have expressed their opinion on the President’s speech, and how effective the new strategies will have in creating stability in Afghanistan.

Senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, Alyssa Ayres said the focus on terrorism as opposed to corruption, power abuses and criminal behaviour by government officials, will “create conditions for the Taliban to come to the table and have peace talks.”

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