In Nationwide Address, Trump To Unveil "New Path Forward" On Afghanistan Tomorrow

With the anti-neocon Steve Bannon out, and nobody left in Trump's inner circle to halt the simmering push for war in Aghanistan, North Korea, the Middle East and virtually everywhere else courtesy of Generals Kelly and McMaster, this morning Reuters reported, quoting Defense Secretary Mattis that Trump has a made a decision on the United States' strategy for Afghanistan after a "sufficiently rigorous" review process.

However, Mattis did not provide details on when the White House would make an announcement or what the decision was on Afghanistan, where fighting still rages more than 15 years after U.S. forces invaded and overthrew a Taliban government. The Defense Secretary said he is satisfied with how the administration formulated its new Afghanistan war strategy. But he refused to talk about the new policy until it was disclosed by Trump.

"I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and did not go in with a pre-set position," Mattis told reporters traveling with him aboard a military aircraft to Jordan. "The president has made a decision. As he said, he wants to be the one to announce it to the American people."

As reported earlier in the year, soon after taking office in January the Trump administration began a review of U.S. policy on Afghanistan, which has expanded into a broader South Asia review. After Trump met with his national security aides on Friday to review an array of options for Afghan strategy, the White House said no decision had been made on whether he would commit more troops to America's longest war. However, Trump tweeted on Saturday: "many decisions made, including on Afghanistan".

U.S. officials have told Reuters that the president was expected to be briefed on options ranging from a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to a modest increase. Out bet is on the latter, and scrap the "modest" part: after all, if there was ever a time Trump need a "war diversion" it is now.

Luckily, we won't have long to wait: according to a statement issued moments ago by the White House, "Trump will address our Nation's troops and the American people tomorrow night at 9:00 pm (EDT) from Fort Meyer in Arlington, VA, to provide an update on the path forward for America's engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia."

Meanwhile, signaling that the U.S. military expects its mission to continue, Bloomberg reports that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Sunday hailed the launch of the Afghan Army's new special operations corps, declaring that "we are with you and we will stay with you."

Gen. John Nicholson's exhortation of continued support for the Afghans suggested the Pentagon may have won its argument that America's military must stay engaged in the conflict in order to insure terrorists don't once again threaten the U.S. from safe havens in Afghanistan.

 

Nicholson, speaking prior to the White House announcement, said the commandos and a plan to double the size of the Afghan's special operations forces are critical to winning the war. "I assure you we are with you in this fight. We are with you and we will stay with you," he said during a ceremony at Camp Morehead, a training base for Afghan commandos southeast of Kabul.

Furthermore, as Bloomberg notes, the Pentagon was awaiting a final announcement by Trump on a proposal to send nearly 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The added forces would increase training and advising of the Afghan forces and bolster counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate trying to gain a foothold in the country.

According to a senior U.S. military officer in Kabul, increasing the number of American troops would allow the military to quickly send additional advisers or airstrike support to two simultaneous operations. Right now, the official said, they can only do so for one. The officer said it would allow the U.S. to send fighter aircraft, refueling aircraft and surveillance aircraft to multiple locations for missions.

 

The officer was not authorized to discuss the details publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. Afghan military commanders have been clear that they want and expect continued U.S. military help.

 

Pulling out American forces "would be a total failure," Col. Abdul Mahfuz, the Afghan intelligence agency chief for Qarahbagh, north of Kabul, said Saturday. And he said that substituting paid contractors for U.S. troops would be a formula for continuing the war, rather than completing it.

As such, anyone harboring any hope that with two generals whispering strategy in Trump's ear, and with anti-interventionist Bannon out of the picture, that Trump will announce an accelerated withdrawal of US troops from the war-battered country, should probably not hold their breath. Meanwhile, keep a close eye on Mattis, Kelly and McMaster: once Trump announces the inevitable boost in military activity in Afghanistan first (and soon, everywhere else), it will be the three generals who - together with Goldman Sachs when it comes to domestic policy - are now officially in control of the U.S. executive branch.

Comments

ET (not verified) Sun, 08/20/2017 - 16:09 Permalink

Strategic retreat from what is essentially a trap would be the smart thing to do.There is no prize to be won in Afghanistan.Conserve our military power for real strategic threats.

SafelyGraze Yukon Cornholius Mon, 08/21/2017 - 01:07 Permalink

the us must intervene with all of its military might because of the afghanis gassing their own childrenand the koreanis gassing their own childrenalso the venezuelans gassing their own childrenre: the syrians gassing their own children, the us must intervene with all of its military mightin iraq, it is necessary that the us intervene with all of its military might beacuse of the iraqis gassing their own childrenthey have also pulled down one of their own statues 

In reply to by Yukon Cornholius

matermaker Bes Sun, 08/20/2017 - 19:31 Permalink

The Persian Empire left it alone and called it Baktria.  Alexander the great couldn't conquer it.  Rome couldn't Conquer it. India couldn't.  The Brits couldn't.  The Russians couldn't.  Even war mongering generals realize that the only way to conquer that part of the world is through money and corruption, and we are low on the prior.  We will back down.  Not even Pakistan has an iota of control over the western part of their nation.  Give it to the spooks like ole Zbignew on a moutain top to use it as a wild card in the belly of the Russ and Indochina.  Because if we don't, the others in the reigon will. It is a region that lies in the center of Russia, China, Iran and Indo-Pak.  We will concentrate our influence in metro-fort-areas and leave the new wild east to itself.  The hanging judge Parker in Fort Smith on the edge of indian territory comes to mind.  But even then it is folly.  the Persians will prevail there.  You just can't project power into such a place.  It doesn't stick.  It wasn't Afghans we blamed for 9-11.  It was Saudis hiding there.

In reply to by Bes

matermaker Giant Meteor Sun, 08/20/2017 - 20:37 Permalink

We bullied Japan into attacking us much like we are doing to NORK, now.  Sanctions, energy embargos, flat out provocations.  Yes, Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor and yes there was a reason only our battleships were there.  The Hindu-Kush... the rooftop of the World is different.  The generals who are in power cut their teeth on Vietnam.  The cental east is ten times worse than that.  They truly are in the stone ages.  The only way to conquer less than total and complete irradiacation[kind of like what we did to the natives here] Is move somebody else in.  Who would we move in?

In reply to by Giant Meteor

ET (not verified) Occident Mortal Sun, 08/20/2017 - 16:48 Permalink

Generals don't like to lose a war, no matter how pointless it is.General McMaster wrote a book a couple of decades ago on the Vietnam War and how it was lost before it began. Maybe he will have similar thoughts.http://www.historynet.com/book-review-dereliction-of-duty-johnson-mcnam… maybe not.http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-refuses-sign-plan-send-more-troops…

In reply to by Occident Mortal

FreedomWriter ET (not verified) Sun, 08/20/2017 - 17:13 Permalink

Actually a phased or immediate troop withdrawal is the most likely announcement. Trump's generals all know Afghanistan was a losing proposition from the beginning. So does anyone else who has studied military history.The only reason the US invaded Afghanistan in the first place was because Dickhead Cheesey, Rumbottle, and other Neocons saw a fabulous business opportunity. Shrub just did what he was told. All are civilians I might add. They should still be tried for war crimes.I hope Trump knocks it out of the park and forces Soros to create pro-war pressure groups. Hopefully that will make him an official enemy of the state with a price on his head. I am sure his unpaid Antifa workers wll happily go after the bounty.

In reply to by ET (not verified)

chunga Billy the Poet Sun, 08/20/2017 - 16:44 Permalink

It's gonna be a tough sell for him if he's authorizing moar troops, bombs. If that happens my little flicker of hope is probably going to blow right out and no amount of bombastic tweets about fake news will change that.What that will tell me is all the talk about the importance of public opinion and support from the base really means nothing. It doesn't matter what anybody thinks.

In reply to by Billy the Poet

chunga Billy the Poet Sun, 08/20/2017 - 17:16 Permalink

This is something I've thought about a lot because I feel an obligation to do something. I just don't know what that is. I outside trying to finish this door thinking what's the reason for troops in Afdhanistan, the drugs come to mind, and the Taliban is over there doing bad things, reveling in knock down statues ironically among them. I doubt very much the lines at the WH (or anywhere) are lit up with people who want to ramp war over there, but it looks like they might be doing it anyways and have been for a long time.The peaceful things to do look like dead ends and taking some sort of stand without sufficient numbers also seems like a tough road to hoe, LaVoy tried that and the black hats ambushed him and shot him in the back. I just don't know.

In reply to by Billy the Poet

Billy the Poet chunga Sun, 08/20/2017 - 17:26 Permalink

Just to ease the tension here's a (perhaps fanciful) way that this all plays out OK. Trump gets himself tossed out of office and Pence takes over. But what happens in 2018 and 2020? Do all of us who rejected mainstream candidates of either party suddenly come back into the fold or is that the opportunity for the Ron Paul/Tea Party faction to gain major traction and take over the party or create a formidable new party of our own?Now, remember, I'm an anarchist but I do have fond feelings for the nation I grew up in and I'm just thinking out loud.Good luck to one and all and stay away from the fucking pods.

In reply to by chunga

chunga Billy the Poet Sun, 08/20/2017 - 18:42 Permalink

Like somebody says above we don't even know what his "path forward" is gonna be yet so we can wait until Monday to blast or impeach him. What I'd like to do is adopt Lovey's strict policy of ignoring fake news and things she can't change but that takes discipline, something I'm resigned to not having.We're in the middle of nowhere with moar cows than people and certainly no fake riots, so maybe it's selfish but wid did that on purpose. I should have had this damn door trim job done yesterday but I busy reading and commenting on fake news. Now is a good time to pick up my tools, wash up and put a burger on the grill, drink a few beers and watch a football game I taped yesterday because I just got stung in the neck by a bunch of yellow jackets.

In reply to by Billy the Poet

Billy the Poet Mikeyyy Sun, 08/20/2017 - 17:08 Permalink

What is your goal here? Are you suggesting that I shouldn't call the White House in condemnation of militarism if that's what Trump intends? I've done it before.Even if Trump turns out to be as bad as Obama then Trump voters can still be better than Obama voters because at least we'll attempt to hold our candidate's feet to the fire.I joined thousands of others in anti-war marches during the Bush I and Bush II administrations but there were no protests for me to join during the Clinton and Obama years.Fondest memory: Marching with Cindy Sheehan through Oakland and leading the crowd in singing You're a Grand Old Flag at Soldiers and Sailors Hall.  Folks just stared at me until I got to the "forever in peace may you wave" part and threw up the V sign. Then they all joined in and we had a great time. Then someone called out, "Let's do My Country 'Tis of Thee

In reply to by Mikeyyy

Giant Meteor Billy the Poet Sun, 08/20/2017 - 20:51 Permalink

 ".... but there were no protests for me to join during the Clinton and Obama years."A salient point, that cannot be understated ...Giant Meteor pronounced to a few folks in his company, no son of mine will die in a trumped up war in Iraq (this was of course shortly after 9/11) , wherein there was much hoorah, git some, flag waving, never forget, slogans, and wherein it was considered in particularly bad form, "un-patriotic" even , up to and including "threatening," to voice any form of open dissent against government actions in the matter ..Good for you Billy the Poet, for standing up ..It should have been another "tell" when Americans were told, by then POTUS, go out and SHOP ! We got this ...And damn if they didn't15 Fucking years later .. 

In reply to by Billy the Poet

Mikeyyy Billy the Poet Sun, 08/20/2017 - 22:09 Permalink

I notice you didn't dispute my contention, you merely obfuscated the original point by going on your antiwar rant.  And my"goal" is quite simple and exactly as stated.  To call out all the Trump supporters who claim objectivity, but will never be so. No matter what Trump does, or says, you will always end up supporting him.  You'll always find a way to claim the other guy is worse and that will be your rationalization.  We practically have a military junta running the country, Kelly, McMaster,  Mattis et  al, and Trump " might lose your support..." Give me a break.

In reply to by Billy the Poet