President Trump delays decision on troops surge in Afghanistan: NYT Report

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WASHINGTON, May 24 (APP): A decision President Trump was expected to make before the upcoming NATO summit this week about increasing the number of American troops in Afghanistan has been delayed due to a split between his so-called war cabinet and political aides, a New York Times report said on Monday.
Pentagon is pushing for another 5,000 American troops to reinforce the
existing force level in Afghanistan, and President Trump was expected to take a decision before the summit being held in Belgium. He arrives in Brussels on Thursday for the meeting.
Currently, about 13,000 foreign troops are assisting the Afghan troops, of which about 8,400 are American soldiers. Pentagon has previously indicated that between 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops could be sent.
The report said that decision has been delayed following a debate in the
White House questioning the rationale of pouring in more troops in the 16-year-old conflict. Unnamed White House officials, as quoted by the report, said that President Trump wants to see the commitment by other NATO members before making any commitment.
America is spending $1.3 billion a month in Afghanistan and President
Trump has spoken of the need for the NATO members for greater burden-sharing.
But, the more critical element that has forced the delay in a decision
about troops surge in Afghanistan is a “split” between President Trump’s war cabinet, led by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the National Security Adviser, and his political aides spearheaded by chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon.
President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has emerged as a
powerful figure in decision-making, has not yet given any opinion about the specific troop proposals, but he is said to be critical of the existing American policy in Afghanistan.
Military Generals have been given more power by the new administration than President Obama, but President Trump has not said much on Afghanistan and his aides has not included it on the their list of foreign policy priorities.
President Trump met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of
the American-Arab summit recently held in Riyadh and, while reportedly praised his efforts for countering terrorism, he did not speak of more American support.
Senior Pentagon officials have broadly supported the American
commanders’ request for sending more troops to Afghanistan but admit that they are facing questions from certain corners of the White House.
“In addition to the cost and the worries about nation building, critics
doubt that President Ashraf Ghani will be any more effective than his predecessors in curbing the rampant corruption in his country that has siphoned off billions of dollars in American aid in the last decade,” the NYT report said.
In an apparent sign of split in the White House over the issue, Gen.
Mattis said on Friday he has not yet sent a formal troops recommendation to the White House, but he added that it would be delivered soon.
“Deploying more troops would cost billions of dollars, and there is no
guarantee of a clear victory over the Taliban, which controls much of the territory outside Afghan cities. The United States failed to force successful negotiations when it had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan,” the report said.
But, the report while quoting military officers and analysts said that
without a strong American military role, Taliban and other extremist groups will most likely gain ground and undermine President Trump’s promise to destroy Islamic extremists.