Trump Is Weighing A Troop Surge In Afghanistan
The War in Afghanistan has taken a back seat to the fight against ISIS and other foreign policy issues, like what to do about North Korea's missile tests and continuing nuclear program. But now it looks as though the longest-running war in U.S. history may become a larger focus for the Trump administration. Not spoken of much on the 2016 campaign trail, the country's situation since has received more attention since Trump spoke with the Afghan leader in February and a network of ISIS tunnels there were bombed by that "Mother Of All Bombs." Now, will Trump send troops to Afghanistan?
Exactly what the president will decide is a mystery, but his advisers are definitely recommending a troop surge, The Washington Post reported. The plan, which includes an increase in U.S. and NATO troops, would be part of an effort to bring the Taliban back to the negotiating table with the Afghan government. The Taliban has seen increased success in recent years and the security situation in the country has gotten worse. The American goal is to have the Taliban sign a peace treaty with the government, but that will be unlikely if they're in a winning position.
Perhaps also part of it is Trump's goal to "'start winning' again," the paper reported. How exactly the military will make that happen is still being worked through. CNN reported that, according to officials, troop increases would likely range from 3,000 to 5,000 troops. But as the plans are still in flux, it could be as low as 1,500. Once Trump gives it the go-ahead, the troops are welcome, the Afghan Ministry of Defense told the channel.
The troops' mission would mostly be to increase training of Afghan troops on the ground. Currently that is restricted to just some troops further up the chain of command, far from the front lines of battle with the Taliban and ISIS. The surge would allow more Afghan soldiers to benefit from the training in a larger part of the country and with lower ranks.
Interestingly, even though Trump would be the official approving the plan, he would not be the one choosing the number of troops to send to the country. That would be left up to the Pentagon. Currently there are 13,000 foreign troops in the country, The New York Times reported. Of those, about 8,400 are American. Trump will have to make his decision by May 25, when he has a NATO meeting in Brussels. There's hope that other allies might send troops to support the surge.
Whether it's through a troop surge or something else, something must be done to make Afghanistan safer and more stable. It's on Trump to make the decision.