With all the turmoil going on in DC, the Russian investigation, the White House staffing musical chairs and the ever-looming threat from Pyongyang, the continuing war in Afghanistan has found little focus. On Friday, President Trump met with his National Security team and Vice President Pence at Camp David to discuss the future of the war in Afghanistan and the role of the US Military.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement saying, “The President is studying and considering his options and will make an announcement to the American people, to our allies and partners, and to the world at the appropriate time.”
What are the options? According to reports, Secretary “Mad Dog” Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster have a range of options some of which include adding another 3,500 to 5,000 more troops to levels which stand at around 8,400.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released his own statement regarding the status of Afghanistan last Thursday, August 10th, saying, “[a]dopting a new strategy for achieving America’s national security interests in Afghanistan is a decision of the highest importance.” According to the statement, Sen. McCain, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has filed an amendment to the defense authorization bill after “consulting with some of our nation’s most experienced and respected former military and intelligence officials.”
He goes on to state that the goals of this strategy is “to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a sanctuary for terrorists to plot and conduct attacks against America, our allies, or our interests.”
His option is to integrate a “civil-military approach to bolster U.S. counterterrorism efforts, strengthen the capability and capacity of the Afghan government and security forces, and intensify diplomatic efforts” in hopes to move towards a negotiated peace in Afghanistan while cooperating with other nations in the region including China, India and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, President Trump remains unconvinced at the effectiveness of his top soldier in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson and who was reportedly not participating in the Camp David talks on Friday. Perhaps his bags are already packed.
The strategy decision has not been released yet and with all the distractions going on, perhaps it will be some weeks until one is made. With the autumn lull fast approaching, any potential deployments to the region might not begin until after the new year depending on how quickly things come together.
President Trump remains frustrated at the stalemate that has developed in this country’s longest war and the public stands with him. There is no clear-cut, easy out for us in Afghanistan, but something needs to change or we will be fighting this war for generations. The question remains whether these gifted military minds that our president has surrounded himself with can put together a strategy that will allow us to close this nearly two-decade old chapter in our history. The fate of Southwest Asia and nearly 10,000 Americans as well as their families rest in their hands.
Featured image courtesy of DVIDSHub