President Donald Trump addressed the nation Monday night to announce the pillars of his strategy on Afghanistan without announcing to America’s enemies exactly how the U.S. will conduct its military operations in the area.
“I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will,” the president said of his plans to go after terrorists.
Trump said that his first instinct “was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”
“I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every angle,” Trump said. “After many meetings, over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David, with my Cabinet and Generals, to complete our strategy. I arrived at three fundamental conclusions about America’s core interests in Afghanistan.”
President Trump’s three core principles for Afghanistan were:
- Our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made.
- The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists including ISIS and Al Qaeda would instantly fill, just as happened before September Eleventh
- The security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense
Trump also said that the U.S. would shift from Obama’s timetable strategy, where we broadcast when we will depart, to a condition-based strategy where the Commander-in-Chief will make decisions based on conditions met instead of dates gone-by.
A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. Ive said many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin, or end, military operations. We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities.
The president then committed to the troops in the field that they would soon have the tools and policies necessary to win the war on terror.
Finally, my administration will ensure that you, the brave defenders of the American people, will have the necessary tools and rules of engagement to make this strategy work.
President Trump made clear that this the Afghanistan effort is not about building their country into one like ours. It is about killing terrorists before they kill Americans or our allies.
“We are not nation-building again,” the president said. “We are killing terrorists.”
The president made it clear that he had studied the problem, is ready to lead on winning in Afghanistan and is giving America’s warfighters whatever they need to accomplish that goal.