50,000 troops to Afghanistan? Trump has to decide

| 18 May 2017, 03:17

A new Afghanistan war strategy approved last month by President Donald Trump’s top military and national security advisers would require at least 50,000 U.S. forces to stop the advancement of the Taliban and save the Afghan government, according to a classified U.S. intelligence community assessment.
U.S. intelligence and national security officials familiar with the assessment told Bloomberg View that the strategy was drafted in April and provided estimates of necessary troops to be sent to Afghanistan for various strategic options.
If the plan approved by the National Security Council’s principals committee gets a green light from the president — a big if — more than 50,000 U.S. troops will be needed.
That proposed strategy will place the U.S. on a new war-footing and in a deeper partnership with the Afghan government in its current campaign against the Taliban. It will also remove arbitrary timelines for withdrawal set by President Barack Obama.
The new estimate from the intelligence community envisions significantly more U.S. forces in Afghanistan than the current levels of around 8,400 U.S. troops fighting now. It is also more than the modest troop increase for Afghanistan of around 5,000 that was reported last week.
Yet Trump has avoided making a commitment to heavy military involvement recommended by the NSC principals committee. Initially, Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster had hoped to brief the president on a final strategy and get a decision in the first week of May and present the plan at the NATO summit in Brussels on May 25, so the allies would be asked to contribute to a cohesive strategy.
Trump seems to be caught up in the latest allegations that he inappropriately shared classified intelligence with Russia’s foreign minister and the aftermath of his chaotic firing of FBI Director James Comey, and there won’t be time for Afghanistan in his schedule this week.


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