The new plan, which still needs the approval of the president, calls for expanding the U.S. military role.
The new strategy, which has the backing of top Cabinet officials, according to WaPo, would authorize the Pentagon, not the White House, to set troop numbers in Afghanistan and give the military far broader authority to use airstrikes to target Taliban militants. It would also lift Obama-era restrictions that limited the mobility of U.S. military advisers on the battlefield.
The net result of the changes would be to reverse moves by President Barack Obama to steadily limit the U.S. military role in Afghanistan, along with the risk to American troops and the cost of the war effort, more than 15 years after U.S. forces first arrived there.
Trump is expected to make a final call on the strategy before a May 25 NATO summit in Brussels that he plans to attend.
WaPo also notes that inside the White House, those opposed to the plan have begun to refer derisively to the strategy as “McMaster’s War,” a reference to H.R. McMaster, the president’s national security adviser. The general, who was one of the architects of President George W. Bush’s troop surge in Iraq, is the driving force behind the new strategy.
The plan envisions an increase of at least 3,000 U.S. troops to an existing force of about 8,400.
The new strategy comes at a critical time for Afghan forces, which have taken massive casualties and continue to suffer from corruption and poor leadership. Their vulnerability was exposed last month when a handful of Taliban militants killed 140 soldiers in an assault on a military base in northern Afghanistan.-RW
Even proponents of the plan have modest expectations for what an enhanced military effort, given the Taliban’s strength, can achieve. Rather than stopping the militants from taking over additional territory, officials expect that Afghan forces will at best be able to “hold the line” this year and begin to recapture some key terrain from the Taliban next year...
Even backers of a more robust approach concede that the chances of a major peace deal to end the war are low.
“If we don’t achieve that, Plan B should be to prevent state collapse, which would also require additional military resources,” said [ Andrew Wilder, an Afghanistan expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace].