Trump's Afghan Push: More Troops, No Plan

Trump's Afghan Push: More Troops, No Plan by Eli Lake, Bloomberg View

Usually when a president agrees to send more troops to a war zone, it's part of a broader strategy. George W. Bush approved the surge of forces to Iraq as part of a population-centric counterinsurgency war plan. Barack Obama did the same in his first year when it came to Afghanistan, though he eventually regretted the decision, and spent most of his presidency trying to end that war.

For Donald Trump it's different. On Tuesday, he agreed in principle to send more troops to Afghanistan, but he has yet to agree to the broader strategy for winning America's longest war.

That strategy is still technically in development, but its broad outlines -- an increase in special operations forces to train, advise and assist Afghan forces; a more robust plan to go after elements in Pakistan that aid the Taliban; the deployment of more air power and artillery; and a political commitment to the survival of the current government in Kabul -- have been in place since April.

Indeed, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has been pressing the case for the strategy with cabinet secretaries and the president. Initially he had hoped to get the president to agree to the strategy before last month's NATO summit.

Nonetheless, Trump has yet to sign off on it. Administration officials tell me he has been wary of getting sucked into a quagmire. Other cabinet members, like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are wary of making a long-term commitment to the government in Afghanistan, given the track record of the last two American administrations in navigating such relationships. Trump conveyed these concerns to the national security cabinet as recently as Monday…

Read on.

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