WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump laid out his strategy in Afghanistan in an address to the nation Monday night, saying the US would fight to win its longest war in part by boosting troop levels to an unspecified degree.
Trump also said conditions “on the ground,” instead of timetables, would guide strategy, and laid out in broad strokes how he intends to deal with Pakistan and the South Asia region.
In case you missed it, here are some of the most notable lines from Trump’s speech at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia.
“When one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together”
Trump called out prejudice and bigotry at the beginning of his speech — seemingly an attempt to address bipartisan criticisms of his response to the racial violence that beset the country last week. Trump was harshly criticized by politicians on both sides of the aisle for not effectively condemning white supremacists for the violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I share the American people’s frustration”
When speaking about the length of the United States’ efforts in Afghanistan, Trump said he “shared” the frustration. Trump is the third President in 16 years to have a stake in the Afghan War.
“My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life, I heard decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office”
Trump noted that he had originally wanted to pull troops from Afghanistan, but instead worked alongside his national security team to construct a comprehensive plan that would not create a potential vacuum for terror cells.
“The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable.”
If the US were to pull troops from Afghanistan, it could create a power vacuum for terrorist organizations, Trump said. Trump alluded to gains that such organizations made when the US removed troops from Iraq. There are currently about 8,400 US troops deployed in Afghanistan.
“A core pillar in of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions”
Trump said this was one of his new strategy’s core pillars. He also said the US would try to use methods beyond military intervention to continue its support for Afghanistan’s government. The President also called out Pakistan’s harboring of terrorist and militant groups and said the US would no longer tolerate it. And he said he would ensure military personnel would have the tools needed to execute their missions effectively.
“We are not nation-building again; we are killing terrorists”
Trump said it was ultimately up to the people in Afghanistan to be successful.
“We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge”
To try to achieve this, Trump said he would expand authority for the US to target criminal and terrorist networks in Afghanistan.