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President Trump: US Will Not Abandon Afghanistan to ISIS and Taliban

08-22-2017
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President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON -- In a prime-time address to the nation, President Donald Trump placed his own stamp on the 17-year war in Afghanistan. 

The commander in chief committed to remaining in that fight and sending more American troops to the country. 

The president is giving the Pentagon authority to ramp up troop levels in Afghanistan by several thousand, but Trump declared the U.S. military would not talk specifically about troop levels there.

"We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities," President Trump said. "Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out."

The United States currently has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, and U.S. military generals have said that a few thousand more troops would help break the current stalemate against the Taliban.

The president said the additional troops would serve in two roles: counterterrorism missions and training the Afghan forces.

Trump said his "original instinct was to pull out," alluding to his long-expressed view before becoming president that Afghanistan was an unsolvable quagmire requiring a fast U.S. withdrawal. Since taking office, Trump said, he'd determined that approach could create a vacuum that terrorists, including al-Qaida and the Islamic State, could "instantly fill."
   
He added the American people are "weary of war without victory."
   
"I share the America people's frustration," President Trump said at the Army's Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the White House. Still, he insisted that "in the end, we will win."

He added that he would give military commanders the authority to act in real time.

"These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms," President Trump said. "Retribution will be fast and powerful."
 
The president also called on India and Pakistan to step up and said Pakistan needs to stop giving safe havens to terrorists.

"In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America's interests are clear. We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists who threaten America," said Trump.
  
The one thing the president said he would not do is give a timetable for when all of America's troops in Afghanistan will go home. He says our enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.

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