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New US strategy seeks long-term engagement with Afghanistan

Updated May 06, 2017 09:05am


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WASHINGTON: The US Department of Defence has informed Congress that it has prepared a new strategy for Afghanistan, which includes a long-term engagement with the country and possible deployment of additional American troops.

“Afghanistan is a very important partner for the United States in a very tricky region,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence Theresa Whelan told a Senate panel on Thursday. “We want to maintain the partnership with Afghanistan and we want to ensure that Afghanistan reaches its potential. That’s the objective of the strategy.”

Reports in the US media say the White House is also considering a proposal to provide $23 billion a year to implement the new strategy. The Pentagon informed the Senate panel that it would present a revised Afghan war plan to President Donald Trump within the next week.

Pentagon to present fresh war plan to Trump next week

During a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, senior defence officials also hinted at the possibility of increasing the US military presence in Afghanistan.

Ms Whelan and General Ray­mond Thomas, commander of US Special Operations Command, testified to the Senate that the new policy would include major adjustments to the existing plans for defeating the Taliban and other militants and for bringing stability to the war-torn country,

“We are actively looking at adjustments to the approach in Afghanistan right now. I expect that these proposals will go to the president within the next week,” said Ms Whelan while responding to questions from Senator Roger Wicker.

Earlier this year, General John Nicholson, who leads the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, told the committee that he needed “a few thousand” additional personnel to break the present stalemate in the war against the militants.

Senator Wicker — a Mississippi Republican who is considered a close friend of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai — emphasised the need to move beyond anything that puts the US at a stalemate in Afghanistan.

“This is an important fight that we need to win and there’s every reason that we should be able to do that,” he said. “We have a populist in Afghanistan who supports our presence there. The overwhelming majority of the ethnic groups and tribes appreciate what we stand for and look to the United States for leadership.”

“And the intent is to do just that, to move beyond the stalemate,” said Ms Whelan while responding to his remarks, reminding the lawmaker that the Pentagon too realised the importance of building a long-term relationship with Afghanistan.

Earlier in the hearing, the committee’s chairman John McCain reminded Gen Thomas that in his testimony before this panel earlier this year he had admitted reaching a stalemate in Afghanistan.

“We are aware of Commander Nicholson’s description of the current status of the fight as a stalemate. I recently returned from Afghanistan, it is admittedly a very tough fight. We are in the beginning of another fight season,” the general said.

Gen Thomas, however, reminded the veteran lawmaker that the US forces had achieved their main objective in Afghanistan: “The avoidance of another attack from that area and that certainly is an accomplishment and something we need to reinforce going forward.”

Senator McCain interrupted the general and reminded him that “a stalemate means it does not end”.

“I understood the commander’s assessment of a stalemate as an opportunity to change the strategy,” the general replied.

“If the current stalemate prevails, there’s no end to it? What do you think needs to be done to end the stalemate?” asked Senator McCain, interrupting the general.

Gen Thomas said that Gen Nicholson and the secretary of defence were pursuing new initiatives to end this stalemate and he supported their initiatives.

“What do you think is needed, Gen Thomas?” asked Senator McCain.

“We are in a discussion about what needs to be done and I am supporting of the commander and supporting the secretary of defence,” said the general.

Senator McCain reminded him that he was under oath to share his view with the panel and asked him again: “What do you think needs to be done?”

Gen Thomas said he believed the critical factor in Afghanistan was the US commitment to “a sound enduring state” there, which he said, was “not described effectively” in the past. “I think our new strategy is going to establish that definition,” he added.

“Does it mean additional troops?” Senator McCain asked. “Additional troops are being considered,” Gen Thomas replied.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2017


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Comments (39) Closed

Naveen May 06, 2017 07:38am

Good news

Khattak Nasrati May 06, 2017 07:49am

Thanks USA. Lets children of Pashtun Afghans have normal life.

anwarsher May 06, 2017 07:57am

Great news for Pakhtuns.

Jamesbond May 06, 2017 08:01am

The new policy will naturally be in addition to that of present Pak-Afghan policy of USA.

Ahmed May 06, 2017 08:21am

Thank you so much for your sacrifices America. Hope we will win the war on terrorism.

Mohammad aryubi May 06, 2017 08:24am

Afghans whole-heartedly welcome the decision of President Donald Trump administration, to devise a new strategy on Afghanistan's lingering proxy war of attrition, and hopefully focusing exclusively on the internal and external dimensions of the conflict to put an end to it.

SYAM May 06, 2017 08:27am

Good for Afghanistan people and bad for terrorism and Taliban.

Ghazal May 06, 2017 08:29am

God save Pakistan and CPEC

amir_indian May 06, 2017 08:38am

Indian PM Modi will visit Israel in July and US in between June - Aug

Good guy... May 06, 2017 08:40am

An interesting game is going to begin in the region... America is never the friend of anyone.

Ayub May 06, 2017 08:45am

Long term engagement of US in Afghanistan is a good decision.

DEep May 06, 2017 08:46am

Good USA Should stay in Afganistan until the Taiban and its creator agency is crushed.

rao abid May 06, 2017 08:49am

reconciliation is the only way to hold peace in Afghanistan .

Truth_VOICE May 06, 2017 08:55am

Its atually bad news for think America is their for just Afghanistan?...well think agan!.

Peacewins May 06, 2017 08:59am

India can be a great partner in this initiative as it knows how to deal with rogues in the region

Jai modi

ahsan May 06, 2017 09:40am

Good decision. It's always good to have a strong partner. Afghans will definitely be benefited from it.

Mujahid hussain. May 06, 2017 09:46am

Another blunder after vietnam war.....

Shaukat Ali Khan May 06, 2017 09:48am

America needs to remain in Afghanistan for its strategic designs.

Shaukat Ali Khan May 06, 2017 09:48am


Good news; strange?

Atif khan May 06, 2017 09:57am

“We have a populist in Afghanistan..." Really?

Rohan May 06, 2017 10:47am

Awesome news!

S Balu May 06, 2017 11:31am

So called USA is OUTRIGHT LYING saying Afghanistan is long term partner Afghanistan has been INVADED ,destroyed it and killed millions of innocent afghans yet has audacity to say it is a partner. BY US/NATO troops based on lies and installed a puppets USA You are not wanted Taliban please ensure you drive these invaders out

Sajjad Khan-Sherwani May 06, 2017 12:07pm

What the United States does not understand that the Afghans have never had foreign troops on thier soil as they detest anyone from another country as an occupation force.

Sajjad Khan-Sherwani May 06, 2017 12:07pm

@Good guy... Exactly

Fawad afghan May 06, 2017 12:19pm

God bless America! We will prevail for sure. From kabul, Afghanistan.

Farhan May 06, 2017 12:35pm

Too many lost opportunities for pakistan.may b this one utilised with changed heart

Tamza May 06, 2017 12:39pm

@amir_indian what does mini modi's visit to israel and us have to do with the price of wheat in russia. Completely irrelevant comment.

Sans May 06, 2017 12:40pm

Good news.

anwarsher May 06, 2017 01:52pm

@Sajjad Khan-Sherwani That is a myth.

Akhtar May 06, 2017 02:41pm

America has caused much destruction in this region. Why not give the 23 billion to the people of afghanistan so that their country can provide jobs and improve infrastructure instead of creating misery.

Tanu May 06, 2017 04:06pm

@Sajjad Khan-Sherwani that's not correct. Ranjit Singh ruled afghans for over half a century. Go further back into non madrasah history you will find many more rulers who were not pashtoon.

asim May 06, 2017 04:24pm

New war plan.......Afghanistan is a strategic partner? We want to bring peace....Who is being fooled?

aslam shaikh May 06, 2017 04:31pm

New war plan?

aslam shaikh May 06, 2017 04:33pm

First friends of Bush made money from this war. Now Trump wants his friends to make some money too. Let's see how quickly the debt crosses 2 Trillion.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad May 06, 2017 04:40pm

What a silly joke?

Iftikhar Husain May 06, 2017 05:29pm

The US and their allies have done so much in the last years what else can they more to defeat the enemy. Every day bombs are exploding in Kabul and other places and no end to this.

shafqatmir May 06, 2017 05:50pm

@Peacewins , could you name a rogue, and also you know the biggest rogue already

creating trouble there?

Ansari007 May 06, 2017 05:58pm

Here we for go again. The US is in for another brutal beating all for the sake of showcasing that it hasn't lost the war and that it still hopes to win this fight against the Taliban. Furthermore, how will this impact the CPEC is another point to be contemplated upon.

Khwarizm May 06, 2017 07:46pm

The sooner Americans pack their bags and leave the better it is for Asia as their presence has turned out to be the number one destabalizing factor for the region. There is no more Al Qaida here then there are in Europe.