President Donald Trump is clashing with generals over what strategy to execute in Afghanistan, but officials say he’s likely to send more troops to the fight.
Numerous current and former officials told Reuters that the president is upset with the options provided to win the war, which internally has become known as an “eroding stalemate,” Reuters reports.
However, these officials believe that despite Trump’s hesitation, he’s likely to send more troops to Afghanistan.
“It’s the least worst option,” one former U.S. official told Reuters.
That same official added that it’s still possible Trump could order a complete troop withdrawal.
While Secretary of Defense James Mattis does have the authority to unilaterally send more troops to Afghanistan, he reportedly does not want to use that authority without explicit go-ahead from Trump. There are approximately 8,400 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, which is down from a high of more than 100,000 in 2011.
Disputes over strategy have delayed production of a plan far past the mid-July deadline, irritating several members of Congress.
GOP Sen. John McCain stated last Monday that if the White House does not issue a strategy by September, he will legislate a solution via the annual defense budget bill.
“More than six months after President Trump’s inauguration, there still is no strategy for success in Afghanistan,” McCain said in a statement. “Eight years of a don’t lose strategy has cost us lives and treasure in Afghanistan. Our troops deserve better.”
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Saturday that the president has already made some amount of progress on Afghanistan strategy.
“The president’s already made some important decisions on Afghanistan,” McMaster said.
“Everything before was, you know, troop levels and very specific details announcing to the enemy years in advance exactly the number of troops you’re gonna have, exactly what they’re gonna do and what they’re not gonna do,” McMaster added. “And so the president has said, that ‘That is not the way to fight a war. It never has been.’ This is an invention of recent years.”
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