President Donald Trump’s senior military and foreign policy advisers have called for expanding the US’s military role in Afghanistan to counter a resurgent Taliban, the Washington Post reported.
Trump administration officials are recommending sending in 3,000 to 5,000 more troops, which would essentially put the US back on a war footing with the Taliban. US forces will be used to stop the Taliban from gaining further ground in Afghanistan, and bring the Islamic militant group back to the negotiating table with the Afghan government.
The exact number of troops, however, will depend on how many soldiers NATO is willing to supply, an anonymous US defence official told Stars and Stripes.
“NATO needs to contribute the majority of the forces,” the official said.
The new military strategy would also give the Pentagon, not the White House, the authority to set troop numbers in Afghanistan. It would also give the military more authority to use airstrikes against the Taliban, and lift Obama-era restrictions that limited the mobility of US military advisers on the ground.
In late April, Trump also gave the Pentagon the authority to set troop levels in Iraq and Syria. The Afghanistan strategy, however, will still need his approval to be put in action.
Some inside the White House are opposed to the troop surge and have begun calling it “McMaster’s War,” in reference to General H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, who has spearheaded the new strategy in the White House.
White House insiders, however, recently said that Trump and McMaster have been clashing. But after that report emerged, Trump publicly said: “I couldn’t be happier with H.R. He’s doing a terrific job.”
Although officials said it’s unknown how the president will view the new Afghan strategy, as he is spoken very little about America’s longest running war, which is going on 16 years.
There are currently about 8,400 US troops, and 4,900 NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.
Trump is expected to make a decision on the strategy before the May 25th NATO summit in Brussels.