Failing in Afghanistan, Trump to review Afghan policy including ties with Pakistan
WASHINGTON – The United States is preparing to undertake a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, US officials told Reuters, a year after President Donald Trump begrudgingly agreed to extend America’s involvement in the 17-year-old war.
Officials said Trump has shown signs of frustration over the lack of progress since he unveiled a strategy last August that committed to an open-ended deployment of US military advisers, trainers and special forces and increased air support for Afghan security forces. The goal was to force the Taliban militants to open peace talks with the Kabul government.
Trump was opposed to remaining in America’s longest war, but was convinced by his advisers to give it more time. He authorized last year the deployment an additional 3,000 US troops, bringing the total to around 15,000.
Nearly a year later, the current situation is in a stalemate in which Afghan civilians are paying a heavy toll, the Taliban are expanding in rural areas but are unable to capture major urban centres and the capability of Afghan security forces remains in doubt.
Several current US officials and other former officials and advisers with direct knowledge said the White House had not yet formally ordered the review, but they were preparing for a government-wide appraisal in the next few months.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the issue.
“We’ve received some indications from the White House that Trump could ask for a review in the next few months. So we’re preparing for what it would look like,” said a senior U.S. official.
The review would examine all facets of the current strategy, including what progress had been made, the US troops presence, and prospect of negotiations with the Taliban. It also would include US relations with Pakistan, which U.S. officials accuse of supporting the insurgents, the senior official said. Islamabad denies the charge.
“We regularly conduct reviews of our strategies examining their effectiveness and making necessary adjustments to ensure U.S. resources are being used in the most efficient ways possible,” a National Security Council spokesperson said in an emailed response to a request for comment. “We are not planning an overarching review of our core strategy, like the one conducted last summer.”The official did not define “an overarching review of our core strategy,” but added as Trump arrived in Brussels for a NATO summit that, “We expect allies and partners to carry their fair share of the burden in Afghanistan by continuing to increase troop and financial contributions.”