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Trump Announces Plan to Increase US Presence in Afghanistan

Washington (August 22, 2017) United States President Trump has said that a hasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave a vacuum for terrorists to fill.

Trump said his original instinct was to pull US forces out, but he now wanted to avoid the mistakes made in Iraq. The US President said that he wanted to shift from a time-based approach in Afghanistan to one based on conditions on the ground and said he would not set out deadlines.

“America will work with the Afghan government, so long as we see commitment and progress,” he said. Trump also warned Pakistan that the US would no longer tolerate the country offering “safe havens” to extremists.

President Trump sought to rally the nation in support of a new strategy for the U.S. war in Afghanistan, taking greater ownership of a protracted conflict that he had long dismissed as a waste of time and resources.

Trump’s plan involves a modest increase of several thousand troops and the president said success would be determined by conditions on the ground and not dictated by a specific timeline. The change in policy laid out during a prime-time address from the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Va., is the result of a lengthy policy review within his administration over how to proceed in the nation’s longest war.

“Our troops will fight to win,” he said. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over the country, and stopping mass terror attacks against Americans before they emerge.”

The president’s decision to endorse a Pentagon plan to boost troop levels reflects mounting concerns among military leadership that battlefield setbacks for Afghan government forces against the Taliban and al-Qaeda have led to a rapidly deteriorating security situation.

 Trump did not specify how many more troops will be sent to Afghanistan, but congressional officials said the administration has told them it will be about 4,000.

“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts,” Trump said. “But all my life, I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”

After taking office, Trump announced that he would delegate authority to the Pentagon to set troop levels. That raised fears among some lawmakers and foreign policy analysts that even a modest initial increase could escalate rapidly and plunge the United States more deeply back into a conflict that already has resulted in the deaths of 2,403 Americans.

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