Trump unveils new Afghanistan plan, warning against rapid exit

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-22 16:29:50|Editor: ying
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his new Afghanistan strategy Monday night in a national address, calling a rapid exit of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan "unacceptable" and pledging a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.


Trump delivered a prime-time nationally televised address at 9 p.m. local time on Monday (0100 GMT, Tuesday) from Fort Myer in Virginia.

In this over 30-minute speech, Trump ruled out a quick exit of the U.S. troops, saying that a "nasty withdrawal" would have unacceptable consequences and "create a vacuum" that terrorists including the Islamic State and al-Qaida would instantly fill.

He said that the Untied States have been facing "immense" security threats in Afghanistan and the broader region, which made him stop following his "original instinct" to "pull out" the troops.

As a long-time critic of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, Trump ordered a review of the strategy soon after taking office in January.

During his speech, Trump also made it clear that he would not "talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities."

Ahead of Trump's speech, U.S. media expected the U.S. president to authorize the deployment of up to 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

U.S. government officials have reportedly said that Trump had agreed on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' plans to send about 4,000 more troops in Afghanistan.

Currently, there are about 8,400 U.S. troops and another 5,000 forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the ground in Afghanistan to train and assist the Afghan forces against the Taliban, and conduct counter-terrorism missions against groups such as the Islamic State.

In the speech, Trump said it was counter-productive for the United States to "announce in advance the dates we intend to begin, or end, military options."

However, the new strategy would shift from "a time-based" approach to one based on conditions on the ground, he said.

Trump outlined the pillars of his strategy, saying that the United States was not about nation-building but focusing on "killing terrorists."


While reassuring the Afghan government about the U.S. commitment of cooperative work, Trump also warned that the support of the United States was "not a blank check," and its patience was "not unlimited."

"The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of military, political and economic burden," said Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump expressed his open attitude toward the Taliban, voicing a possibility to "have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban" someday after an effective military effort.

In his address, Trump also pledged to further develop the U.S. strategic partnership with India, which was a critical part of the South Asia strategy for the United States.

Hailing Trump's speech, Mattis said the president's strategy came after "a rigorous interagency review."

"I will be in consultation with the Secretary General of NATO and our allies -- several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers," said Mattis in a statement released by the Defense Department later in the day.

The new Afghanistan strategy comes at a time when senior U.S. officials warned of a dire security situation in Afghanistan.

In a congressional hearing in June, Mattis said that the United States was still "not winning" the longest war in U.S. history in Afghanistan.

Trump delivered the national address after a lengthy meeting with his national security team at Camp David on Friday.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush ordered to dispatch U.S. troops to fight the war in Afghanistan in October 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

It has been reported that about 2,400 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001.