Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday said the new US strategy was intended to send a strong message to the Taliban that “we are not going anywhere”.
Speaking to US media, he said that the “conditions on the ground” in Afghanistan would determine the number of American troops in the war-torn country.
Tillerson said that US President Donald Trump had been very clear that the new policy was a dramatic shift from a time-based military strategy to a conditions-based strategy.
“Now, all of this is directed at sending a message to the Taliban that we are not going anywhere. We’re going to be here,” Tillerson said.“Which means it will be dictated by conditions on the ground informed by battlefield commanders,” he said, “he has delegated significant authority to Defence Secretary James Mattis to set troop levels, but also has been able to delegate for the military commanders in the field, decision-making, to begin to turn the tide against the Taliban.”
He stated that Afghanistan has a history of being a refuge for some of the most devastating attacks carried out.
“As we all know, the attack of 9/11 was organised and carried out from Afghanistan. So, in Afghanistan, we have to secure Afghanistan in a way that that can never occur again because there’s no territory available to organisations to do so,” the secretary of state said.
Tillerson reiterated that the US President has been clear in his speech that the US was not undertaking nation-building in Afghanistan anymore.
“So, we will be shifting our diplomatic and aid and development programs as well to coincide with the president’s view that the Afghan government and that Afghan people must own their form of government,” he said.
“They must come to some reconciliation with all ethnic groups, including the Taliban, as to how they can secure their country, as a peaceful country, one that does not support terrorism does not provide safe havens for terrorists and does not align itself with any terrorist organisations or countries that do. That’s what winning looks like,” he added.