Trump set to announce major decision on Afghanistan

by WorldTribune Staff, August 20, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump, after consulting at Camp David with his national security aides, has made a decision on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said.

Complete withdrawal and additional troops were among the options for Afghanistan discussed by President Donald Trump’s national security team at Camp David. / AP

“I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and did not go in with a pre-set position,” Mattis told reporters traveling with him aboard a military aircraft to Jordan. “The president has made a decision. As he said, he wants to be the one to announce it to the American people.”

U.S. officials told Reuters earlier that Trump expected to be briefed on options ranging from a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to an increase of between 3,000 and 5,000 troops.

Related: Blackwater founder and Trump donor Erik Prince has a Plan B for Afghanistan, August 8, 2017

Politico reported on Aug. 19 that, according to two sources, Vice President Mike Pence and national security adviser H.R. McMaster pushed for more troops in Afghanistan at the Camp David meeting.

The two sources, who Politico said were an administration official and a senior White House aide, also confirmed that Erik Prince, founder of the former Blackwater private security firm, had been scheduled to attend the session at Camp David, but that “he was blocked at the last minute.

The administration official said McMaster was the one who blocked Prince.”

Prince said that Trump should “consolidate authority in Afghanistan with one person: an American viceroy who would lead all U.S. government and coalition efforts,” according to a report.

In a May 31 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Prince wrote: “Afghanistan is an expensive disaster for America. The Pentagon has already consumed $828 billion on the war, and taxpayers will be liable for trillions more in veterans’ health-care costs for decades to come.”

The Trump administration began a review of U.S. policy on Afghanistan soon after Trump took office in January.

Half of Afghanistan is either contested or under the Taliban’s control, according to U.S. estimates.

“The Taliban insurgency has never been stronger… We need a strategy to address all this, and fast,” said Michael Kugelman, with the D.C.-based Woodrow Wilson Center.

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