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President Donald Trump says he is going against his instincts in approving the new campaign plan sought by his military advisers.
President Donald Trump says he is going against his instincts in approving the new campaign plan sought by his military advisers.

Trump Commits US to Open-Ended Afghan War

Trump Commits US to Open-Ended Afghan War

US President Donald Trump committed US troops to an open-ended war in Afghanistan, a decision the Afghan government welcomed on Tuesday but which Taliban insurgents warned would make the country a "graveyard for the American empire".
Trump offered few specifics in a speech on Monday but promised a stepped-up military campaign against the Taliban who have gained ground against US-backed Afghan government forces. He also singled out Pakistan for harboring militants in safe havens on its soil, Reuters reported.
Trump, who had in the past advocated a US withdrawal, acknowledged he was going against his instincts in approving the new campaign plan sought by his military advisers but said he was convinced that leaving posed more risk.
"The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable," he said. "A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill," he said, using an acronym for the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in welcoming the strategy, said it would increase the capacity of the training mission for Afghan forces, including enhancing its fledgling air force and doubling the size of the Afghan special forces.
"I am grateful to President Trump and the American people for this affirmation of support ... for our joint struggle to rid the region from the threat of terrorism," Ghani said in a statement.
Republican Trump, who had criticized his predecessors for setting deadlines for drawing down troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, declined to put a timeline on expanded US operations in Afghanistan. Trump now inherits the same challenges as George W. Bush and Barack Obama, including a stubborn Taliban insurgency and a weak, divided Kabul government. He is laying the groundwork for greater US involvement without a clear end in sight or providing specific benchmarks for success.
Trump insisted through his speech that the Afghan government, Pakistan, India, and NATO allies step up their own commitment to resolving the 16-year conflict.
"We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens," he said.
Senior US officials warned he could reduce security assistance for nuclear-armed Pakistan unless it cooperated more.
Trump expanded the US military's authority for American forces to target militant and criminal networks, warning "that no place is beyond the reach of American arms".
"Our troops will fight to win," he said.

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