Donald Trump has announced he will prolong the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which he once described as a “complete waste.”
In an address to troops at Fort Myer in Virginia, Trump said he was setting out a new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. But he did not say how many more troops he would send, how long they would stay, or what their ultimate objective was.
The president declared there would be more onus on the Afghan government to perform better, in civilian and military terms, and on the Pakistani government to cut support for militants who find a haven along the Afghan border. Trump warned that Islamabad would have “much to lose” if it did not comply.
The Trump White House has already given the Pentagon authority to deploy another 4,000 more troops to bolster the 8,400 there already and vice-president Mike Pence was reported to have told Congress that 3,900 extra soldiers would be sent.
Trump gave three reasons for continuing the US involvement in the Afghan war on the side of the Kabul government against the Taliban: to honour those American soldiers who had died there since 2001, to stop Afghanistan becoming a haven for terrorists once more and to help stabilise the South Asia region.
“The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable,” he added. “A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists – including Isis and al-Qaida – would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11.
“Thirdly and finally, I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense,” he said.