Washington: US President Donald Trump will announce America’s new strategy in Afghanistan today, nearly 16 years after the war began in the country, the White House said, amid reports that his administration looked into possibilities of a role for India during its policy review.
Trump’s address to US troops and the nation at 9 pm local time (7:30 am IST, Tuesday) from the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia, will follow Defence Secretary Jim Mattis confirmation yesterday that the administration had decided on a new Afghan strategy after “rigorous” debate.
The much-awaited policy announcement comes eight months after Trump became the US president and after criticism from some US lawmakers that he was struggling to make a decision.
Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, announced his Afghan policy in the first 100 days of his office.
Frustrated with Trump administration’s delay, Senator John McCain on August 10 had unveiled his own strategy for Afghanistan in which he had proposed to impose “graduated” costs on Pakistan if it continues to support terrorist groups.
Announcing his strategy, McCain had said that the US was “adrift” in Afghanistan. The chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee had called for an “enduring presence” of US troops in the war-torn country.
The White House statement did not detail the outline of the new strategy, with Press Secretary Sarah Sanders only saying that Trump will “provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia.”
On Friday, Trump had a meeting with national security officials at Camp David to discuss the Afghan strategy. On Saturday, he tweeted: “Important day spent at Camp David with our very talented Generals and military leaders. Many decisions made, including on Afghanistan.”
Mattis yesterday said that the new strategy covered more than Afghanistan and was a full “South Asia strategy.”
While Obama’s policy focused primarily on Afghanistan and Pakistan, reports said the Trump administration looked into possibilities for a role for India during its policy review.
Months ago, the Pentagon had settled on a plan to send approximately 3,800 additional troops to help strengthen the Afghan Army, which is stuck in what some call a deteriorating stalemate with the Taliban insurgency.
US military commanders have often argued that additional troops would help the US to reverse gains made by the Taliban and other militant groups.
Following the 2001 September 11 attacks, the US-led an invasion of Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda.
The war eventually became the US’ longest in history.
This year, the Taliban offensive against the West-backed government in Kabul increased this summer.
Reports said the the insurgent group in an “open letter” to Trump last week reiterated its calls for the withdrawal of all remaining US troops from Afghanistan.