Speed Reads

afghanistan war

Trump is expected to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan in war strategy speech

In a nationally televised address on Monday night, President Trump will lay out his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, and the strategy is expected to include sending "several thousand" more U.S. troops to aid in the 16-year war, The New York Times reports. Trump announced that he had completed his strategic review on Saturday morning, and on Sunday night, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that Trump has "made a decision," adding, "I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and did not go in with a preset position."

There are currently about 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as part of the 13,000-strong NATO force that's training and advising the Afghan military, plus another 2,000 or so U.S. troops conducting counterterrorism operations against Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamic State militants. Trump gave Mattis the authority in June to deploy up to 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan, but Mattis has declined to do so without a broader strategy in place.

The president has been working on his Afghanistan strategy for months, as former President Barack Obama did when he took office. Trump was inconsistent during the campaign on what he thought the U.S. should do about Afghanistan, and he has considered pulling out as president, because, as he noted in 2013, the war is very expensive.

But Trump has told advisers he's been shown maps of Afghanistan from 2014 and 2017, and the Taliban's presence in the country (indicated in red) had grown from a little bit to more than half the map today, reports Jonathan Swan at Axios, adding: "Trump has been reluctantly open to the generals' opinion and I'm told he doesn't want to be the president who loses the country to the terrorists." At the same time, GOP strategist Ron Bonjean tells The Washington Post, Trump's "address is designed to turn the page from the Charlottesville chaos and remind voters that Trump is commander in chief and has made an informed and responsible decision." The speech, from Fort Meyers in Virginia, will be at 9 p.m. EST, during a town hall House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be conducting through CNN.