Pentagon says no decision on Afghan policy review yet
Washington, Aug 1: The Pentagon has said there has been no decision by the Trump administration to review its Afghan policy yet and refused to give any time frame for such a development.
The response comes amid a media report suggesting that the Trump administration is exploring the option of withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
"We're contributing to a process that's being led by the White House that is looking across our instruments of national power, not just military, but diplomatic, financial, intelligence and information as well to lay out what our desired end state is," the Pentagon Press Secretary, Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters during an off-camera news conference at the Pentagon yesterday.
"From that will be derived any follow-on decision about troops or anything else," Davis said when asked about the increase in troop numbers in Afghanistan.
Top leaders in the past have said that they are adopting a regional approach in finding a permanent solution to the decades old Afghan crisis. This includes India, Pakistan, China, Central Asian Republics and Russia. The White House has already authorised Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan by a few thousand, he said, adding that Mattis would not take such a call unless the strategy is in place.
Mattis, he said, "wants to get the strategy right first," before committing to increase in troops or drawdown. In a statement, top Republican Senator John McCain rued that the country is still without an Afghan policy.
"More than six months after President Trump's inauguration, there still is no strategy for success in Afghanistan. Eight years of a 'don't lose' strategy has cost us lives and treasure in Afghanistan. Our troops deserve better," said McCain, who is chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee.
"When the Senate takes up the National Defence Authorisation Act in September, I will offer an amendment based on the advice of some our best military leaders that will provide a strategy for success in achieving America's national interests in Afghanistan," McCain said.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Trump administration is also exploring the option of withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
"Unable to agree on a plan to send up to 3,900 more American forces to help turn back Taliban advances in Afghanistan, the White House is taking a new look at what would happen if the US decided to scale back its military presence instead," the daily quoted some current and former officials of the Trump administration as saying.
According to the daily, a senior administration official said: "It's a macro question as to whether the US, this administration, and the president are committed to staying."
"It doesn't work unless we are there for a long time, and if we don't have the appetite to be there for a long time, we should just leave. It's an unanswered question," the daily quoted the official as saying.
The US state department had said last week that a military strategy may not "necessarily" yield results in Afghanistan and a permanent solution to the conflict can be found through peace talks with the Taliban and other parties involved. Afghanistan has been battling insurgency for more than a decade. The Taliban offensive against the West-backed government in the country increased this summer. Much recently, a Taliban suicide bombing killed at least 26 people in Kabul.