U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday night announced a new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
Speaking in an address to the nation from Fort Myers, Virginia, Trump acknowledged his original instinct was to pull U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, but he now realizes that the U.S. cannot repeat in Afghanistan the same mistake it made in Iraq.
“A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, would instantly fill," said Trump, adding, “The security threats that we face in Afghanistan, and the broader region, are immense. Today, 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
He criticized Pakistan for providing safe haven “to agents of chaos, violence, and terror" and said Washington would no longer tolerate such behavior.
The military strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia, explained Trump, will shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.
"We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary time tables, will guide our strategy from now on," he stressed.
“America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field. We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists,” said Trump.
He stressed that “no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms. Retribution will be past and powerful. We are already seeing dramatic results in the fight against ISIS.”
“Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition.”
While the U.S. will continue to support Afghanistan, “our support is not a blank check,” said Trump.
“Our patience is not unlimited. We will keep our eyes wide open. I will remain steadfast in protecting American lives and American interests,” he stressed.