January 21, 2018

U.S. to expand its role against Taliban in Afghanistan

10 May 2017, 04:38 | Kara Nash

U.S. Department of Defense

Latest on Afghanistan options expected to hit Trump's desk this week

Donald Trump's foreign policy advisors have advised the president to consider increasing American troops in Afghanistan, which could alter Obama's original plan to restrict military action in the Middle East.

The military's proposal, which requires White House approval, would allow USA troops to partner with Afghan forces closer to the fight, said the Defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the plan.

The Post, which first reported the development late Monday, said that President Trump has yet to approve of the plan.

President Trump's top military and foreign policy advisers reportedly proposed a new military strategy in Afghanistan which would put deploy USA troops to fight against the Taliban, according to a Monday Washington Post report.

This would also get rid of former President Barack Obama's restrictions that limited the US military advisers on the battlefield.

But without a strong USA military role, the Taliban and more extreme groups such as the Islamic State's Afghan wing would most likely gain ground, weakening Trump's vow to defeat Islamic extremists.

Trump is set to make a decision before the May 25 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels.

The goal is to make "incremental progress" in coming years in the hope that those gains will be enough to persuade the Taliban to make concessions that will lead to peace, said a USA official familiar with the plan. The US force would also be bolstered by requests for matching troops from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations.

The White House declined to comment. "The basic pillars of President Barack Obama's strategy â€" supporting Afghan forces rather than doing the fighting for them and seeking a political settlement with the Taliban â€" are likely to remain in place, defence officials said.

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One proposal is expected to be to grow the number of United States soldiers in the country, now at 8,400, by as many as 5,000 new fighters.

Britain has approximately 500 combat troops in Afghanistan to help train military forces. Additional troops and aid spending would add to the fiscal toll of a war that already costs $23 billion a year.

The Trump administration is weighing a drastic change when it comes to Afghanistan: Whether to send as many 5,000 more troops in the fight, a military official told NBC News.

The war already costs the USA $23 billion a year, a figure that would jump if the new strategy-which also calls for more aid to the country-was implemented.

At the time, a US defense official said the same authority had not been expanded to Afghanistan pending the administration's review of its overall strategy in that country.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Although Afghans have become more effective in recent years, they've been unable to break the Taliban's grip on substantial amounts of territory. The U.S. would then backfill those numbers to arrive at troop levels senior commanders want. They have also called for authority to target Taliban leaders with airstrikes.

A number of military officials have spoken to the Washington Post and Reuters about the proposals, which come as the Taliban have steadily increased their troop numbers and their influence in Afghanistan. But we still can't claim Afghan security forces are a "strong, sustainable force" after training them for 15 years.

"The proposed strategy will, however, maintain the Obama administration's push toward reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government", CNN reported.

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