What Is Trump Doing About Afghanistan? He's Speaking About America's Longest War
On Monday, President Trump is scheduled to give a major speech on America's war in Afghanistan. The 16-year-long conflict is America's longest-running war, and many are waiting on baited breath to learn exactly what Trump is doing about Afghanistan, and what he plans to do going forward. Trump will deliver his address at 9:00 p.m. EST from Fort Myer, a military base in Arlington, Virginia, and while none of the details of the speech have been released, the White House said in a statement that the president will "provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia."
National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has been leading the administration's review of options for Afghanistan since shortly after Trump took office, and NBC News reported in July that the Pentagon was considering "an expanded and more aggressive role" in the country. But according to Reuters, Trump has privately expressed skepticism over the war, telling advisors in July that "we're not winning" and considering whether the the leading U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Nicholson, ought to be fired. The Guardian similarly reported that Trump was dissatisfied with proposals to send thousands of additional U.S. troops to the region.
The administration has considered at least three proposals regarding the 8,400 American soldiers currently in Afghanistan, according to Reuters. One option, which was supported by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon prior to his departure, is the complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the country. Another option would withdraw 3,000 troops but leave counterterrorism and intelligence experts in the region, while a third proposal would have enlisted a private military force to replace all American soldiers in the country. Reuters reported that the third option, although presented to Trump, was reportedly not seriously considered.
Trump's advisors have had a difficult time getting the president to understand that any U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan must be accompanied by a broader strategy in nearby Pakistan, according to Reuters, which is reportedly one reason why it has taken Trump so long to make a decision.
President Bush launched the Afghanistan invasion in 2001 after the attacks of Sept. 11; although President Obama announced the end of America's "combat mission" in the country in 2014, he nevertheless authorized U.S. airstrikes against Taliban forces in the country two years later.
Trump's Monday speech will be only his third prime-time address to the country as president, the first being a speech to a joint session of Congress in February.