Donald Trump commits more US troops to Afghanistan and calls on Britain to follow suit

Barney Henderson — Telegraph.co.uk Aug 22, 2017

Donald Trump has committed the US military to win the war in Afghanistan – and called on Nato allies, such as Britain, to increase troop numbers “in line with our own”.

The US president said that a withdrawal of troops would leave a power vacuum that would be filled by terrorists, as has happened in Iraq.

Several administration officials said that up to 4,000 additional US troops would be deployed to the country to combat a resurgent Taliban and the growing number of Islamic State fighters in the country, although Mr Trump would not be drawn on numbers on Monday evening.

“We will ask our Nato allies and global partners to support our new strategy with additional troop and funding increases in line with out own – we are confident they will,” Mr Trump said in an address to the nation from Fort Myer, near Washington DC.

There are currently up to 585 British troops stationed in Afghanistan alongside 8,400 American soldiers.

The president said that Pakistan should be doing more to tackle terrorist “safe havens”.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens,” the president said. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour terrorists.”

And he warned the Afghan government that it should not view US support as a “blank check”.

“America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress,” he said.

“However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank cheque. The American people expect to see real reforms and real results.”

Mr Trump frequently questioned US policy in Afghanistan on the campaign trail.

He was previously sceptical about the merits of sending more troops to the front line of what is America’s longest military conflict and said the US should quickly pull out of the country.

However, he also vowed to start winning wars – and his military advisers appear to have convinced him that any victory against the Taliban and Isil factions would be impossible without more troops and resources.

Speaking after the president’s address, James Mattis, the defence secretary, said that America and several allies had committed to boosting their troop numbers in Afghanistan

“I have directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to make preparations to carry out the president’s strategy,” Mr Mattis said in a statement.

“I will be in consultation with the Secretary-General of Nato and our allies – several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers.”

The president announced a strategic review shortly after his inauguration in January and later gave Mr Mattis the authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan.

“We’re not winning,” Mr Trump told advisers in July in relations to the 16-year conflict and reportedly questioned whether Gen John Nicholson, who leads US and international forces in Afghanistan, should be fired.

“I took over a mess, and we’re going to make it a lot less messy,” Mr Trump said earlier this month.

Mr Mattis said on Sunday that the administration’s new policy went beyond just Afghanistan and was a full “South Asia strategy”.

Pakistan has come under particular criticism from US officials recently, who argue Islamabad should be doing more to combat the growth of extremism in the region.

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