Washington, July 20: US President Donald Trump is likely to discuss ‘new ideas’ on his country’s Afghan policy to ascertain the reasons why his country has been stuck in this smaller Asian nation for the last 17 years.
According to a report published in the Dawn Newspaper of Pakistan, President Trump is likely to chair a meeting of his security advisers in the later part of the week to review US’ Afghan Policy.
The US Administration has been busy working on various ideas and options to formulate the new strategy, the Dawn reported.
President Trump has expressed his desire to review US’ Afghan policy at a lunch with his service members in Newport News, Virginia on Tuesday. He said he had come to discuss ‘new ideas’ with his soldiers on how to win the war in Afghanistan.
“We need to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years, how it’s going and what we should do in terms of additional ideas,” he said.
“We have plenty of ideas from a lot of people, but I want to hear it from people on the ground,” he told reporters before the lunch.
Trump has authorised his Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to determine the nature and size of US military presence in Afghanistan.
Mattis is expected ask for nearly 4,000 additional troops and more powers to engage the militants. The secretary has pledged to deliver a strategy to Congress this month.
In a separate report on the situation in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the US air war in Afghanistan has returned to a level of intensity not seen since 2012.
As of June 30, US and coalition aircraft had dropped or expended 1,634 munitions in Afghanistan so far this year, according to US Air Force numbers. By comparison, in 2015 and 2016, that figure was 298 and 545, respectively.
The majority of this year’s strikes have been used to go after the Taliban, said Navy Capt Bill Salvin, a spokesman for the US-led mission in Afghanistan, told the Post.
On Monday, a US Marine unit in Helmand province helped the Afghan army retake a district south of the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah. The operation was supported with “numerous” US air strikes.
While Afghan forces control some population centres in Helmand, the Taliban are able to move around almost completely unrestricted.
An April report released by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction indicated that Afghan forces control 60 per cent of the country, up from 57 per cent in November last year.
That same report indicated the Taliban had gained a percentage point of ground, still putting the militants’ control of territory at its highest in the country since US forces invaded the country in 2001. The rest, the report said, remains contested.