Breaking News Emails
President Donald Trump will discuss the "path forward" in Afghanistan in a speech on Monday night, the White House said in a statement Sunday.
The speech, to be delivered at the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia, at 9 p.m. ET, will "provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia," the statement said.
The address comes after a lengthy strategy review in which White House and Pentagon officials mulled a more aggressive role for the American military in Afghanistan.
Breaking News Emails
The review, which was led by National Security Adviser Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster, looked at whether several thousand more troops should be deployed to the country, U.S. defense officials told NBC News last month.
The troops would be assigned to counter-terrorism and NATO training missions, the officials said, and would expand the American military’s current footprint of roughly 8,400 troops.
Military forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001, making it America's longest war.
In 2014, President Barack Obama ended the United States’ combat mission in the country, though two years later he authorized American airstrikes that supported the Afghan military’s offensive. Six months later, Obama also authorized the targeting of an ISIS affiliate that had grown in eastern Afghanistan.
As a private citizen, Trump advocated for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. As president, he declared that he wanted “to start winning” there — and during a meeting last month he reportedly repeatedly suggested that top military officials should fire the four-star general who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
“We aren't winning," Trump said, according to senior administration officials. "We are losing."
Republicans and Democrats alike have criticized a possible troop expansion. Earlier this year, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said that it “made no sense” to expand the military’s presence without a new strategy, while Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin put it this way:
"We’ve tried this before, we’ve tried to fortify our effort in Afghanistan under Republican and Democratic presidents, and the fact is we’re still in a situation where the Taliban controls a massive part of the territory," Durbin told MSNBC in May. "We need to have an honest answer to the question: Will the Afghans ever be in a position where there is less corruption and there is less incompetence and they’re able to stand up and defend their own nation? It’s time for some honest answers."