Some differences, many similarities in President Trump's plan for the Afghan War
President Trump outlined his administration’s new strategy for the nearly 16-year war against ISIS and Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan during a nationally televised 30-minute message to the country Monday evening. Setting aside his own self-described instincts and acting on recommendations from his military advisers, the president announced he will expand rather than ease US involvement in South Asia as then-candidate Trump hinted as his “America First” campaign theme. The president announced he would be increasing troop levels to support the Afghan military to ensure “victory.”
That said, Trump signaled that the military’s definition of victory will change and, notably, rejected the notion that the US should participate in “nation-building.” Stating that the US military would no longer be deployed “to construct democracies in far-away lands or to try to rebuild other countries in [America’s] image,” the president declared that the US role in the region would be limited to defeat terrorist groups.
The president’s message stirred journalists and policy analysts to discuss what he did not say. For example, while the president announced plans to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, he declined to provide specific strength or declare any deadline for withdrawal to prevent “America’s enemies” from [knowing] our plans.”
Though under the president’s plan the US will have a greater presence in the country and the South Asia region, President Trump said he expects the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan to contribute more. He warned that aid to Pakistan could be curtailed unless the government becomes more involved in helping to fight terrorism in Afghanistan.