(National Sentinel) Defense strategy: The commander-in-chief is not prepared to settle on any military strategy for Afghanistan that differs little from what’s been done there for the past 16 years.
So on Friday, after meeting with his full National Security Council, President Donald J. Trump sent planners back to the drawing board after rejecting National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster’s plan, Breitbart News reported.
The site noted further that previous reporting claiming that Trump has taken a “hands-off” approach to dealing with military operations overseas is obviously inaccurate:
President Trump indicated that he is not satisfied with the strategy as it currently stands.
The Pentagon and White House National Security Council (NSC) declined to provide specifics about the developing plan.
President Trump demanded that his team go back to square one if necessary and create a realistic plan that ensures Afghanistan is ultimately able to stand on its own as a country, said the administration official, noting that the meeting served as a sort of wake up call for those involved in developing the strategy.
It appears that besides the Pentagon, the NSC has at least some authority in setting the strategy.
Last week Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that a new plan for Afghanistan would be unveiled by “mid-July” or “somewhere around there. We are driven by the maturity of the discussion, and where we’re at, we are not going to meet some timeline if we are not ready, but we are pretty close.”
Trump has granted the Pentagon the authority to decide what are the appropriate U.S. troop levels in the southwest Asian country. Currently, Mattis may increase that number of troops by between 3,000 and 5,000, from the 8,400 already there.
The president made it clear he is not interested in any approach that resembles the strategies used by his predecessors and will not accept anything less than a dramatic overhaul, the official told Breitbart News.
Directly dealing with Pakistan’s support for terrorists fighting the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan would mark a significant departure from what America has done in the past.
Regarding Pakistan, the Pentagon said Friday it would be withholding some $50 million in funding because, say officials, Islamabad is not doing enough to contain or battle the Taliban.
“The funds could not be released to the government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network per the requirement in the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),” Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said in a statement Friday.
As for what constitutes victory in Afghanistan as defined by the president, Stump told Breitbart, “The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan remains centered on working with NATO allies, operational partners, and the international community to defeat the remnants of core al Qaeda and to defeat other violent extremist organizations and terrorist groups, such as ISIS-K [Islamic State], to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a safe-haven for groups to plan and execute attacks against the United States, U.S. persons overseas, or allies and partners; and continuing efforts to provide financial and advisory support to the Afghan Government and to enable a well-trained, equipped, and sustainable ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Force] that provides security in Afghanistan.
“The U.S. and Afghan Governments agree that the best way to ensure lasting peace and security in Afghanistan is through reconciliation and a political settlement with the Taliban. The United States supports an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process and supports any process that includes violent extremist groups laying down their arms,” he added.