Donald Trump will be detailing the "path forward" in Afghanistan during a nationwide address on Monday night. The speech will elaborate on the United States' future strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia, amid a push by American defense officials to revamp the approach. With Trump's speech set to be delivered at the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia, it is worth asking, exactly what is the U.S. doing in Afghanistan?
The United States has been in Afghanistan since October 2001. For the past 16 years, the superpower of the world has deployed hundreds of thousands of soldiers to combat supposed Taliban-strongholds and ISIS centers in Afghanistan. It has cost the country almost $1 trillion in taxpayer money, according to economists.
At this very moment, the American Naval Institute estimated that there are presently 8,500 military members of varying ranks in Afghanistan. The purpose of them being there, according the institute, is to "advise, train, and assist missions, including counter-terrorism and air support" for Afghan security forces.
Prior to becoming the president of the United States, Trump held different views concerning the American expansion of war in Afghanistan. In 2013, Trump tweeted, "We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard and quick. Rebuild the US first."
But now as the president of the country, Trump has taken a much more hawkish view in terms of extending military presence in the country. After becoming the leader of America, Trump expressed his desire to "start winning" in Afghanistan.
The brand-new strategy backed by Trump involved giving the Pentagon the authority to decide the number of military troops in Afghanistan and increased autonomy for the military to conduct airstrikes in the country, which has already witnessed a grisly number of drone and missile strikes from the United States, sometimes hitting civilian-populated areas.
Critics, such as veterans who have been in Afghanistan, have been wary of Trump's increasingly aggressive statements and cautioned against such a proliferation of war that has killed not only thousands of American soldiers but innocent Afghan men, women, and children as well.