President Donald Trump is reportedly set to announce a troop increase in Afghanistan Monday despite criticizing the war for years.
“We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives,” Trump tweeted in March 2013. “If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.” He later wrote in November of that year: “Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024-with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!”
Even as recently as July, Trump said the U.S. got “nothing” from its military involvement in the Middle East and bemoaned the trillions of dollars spent there.
The president will address the nation Monday night at 9 p.m. EST from Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia. The address will focus on America’s future in Afghanistan.
America has been engaged in the war since shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The Taliban has yet to be beaten back, and violence has not subsided. Eleven American troops have died in 2017, and 2,403 Americans have perished in the totality of the now nearly 16 year long war.
The White House has been deliberating on what to do for months now, but Reuters reported Monday that Trump will sign off on a modest troop increase. Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander in Afghanistan, testified in a February Senate hearing that a “few thousand” more troops are needed to break the current “stalemate.” There are currently roughly 8,400 American servicemembers in Afghanistan.
Sending more Americans to Afghanistan wasn’t the only option on Trump’s plate. There was also a plan presented by Blackwater founder Erik Prince to use private military contractors to mentor Afghan troops and provide close air support. A source with knowledge of the deliberations told The Daily Caller that Prince’s plan was supported by Steve Bannon, who has since been ousted from his position as chief strategist.