Trump Has ‘Less Kinetic’ Option in Afghanistan

President Donald Trump is deciding between two rival ideas – one more “kinetic” and the other “less kinetic” – for U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, according to a senior White House official.

On one side are the military strategists, who favor a robust U.S. military approach to resolving the 16-year-old Afghanistan war – hitting the Taliban harder and pressuring them back to the negotiating table. It would also include more spending on building the Afghan government’s capacity, and entail more overall funding, troops, and resources.

On the other side are those who want to maintain the current level of troops but limit U.S. involvement in the war. That option would leave it up to the Afghan government and the Taliban to resolve the conflict, but assist the Afghan government with a minimal train-and-advise mission, also known as “foreign internal defense,” and assist local partners in fighting extremist ideology. It would also include a counterterrorism presence to target high-value targets. It would take notably longer than the kinetic plan but would be significantly cheaper.

“We don’t fight other people’s wars,” the official said. “We help our friends fight their own wars for themselves.”

Earlier this week, details of the more kinetic option leaked to the Washington Post. It would consist of an addition of at least 3,000 more U.S. troops, and be matched by an increase in NATO forces. It would also loosen military restrictions in fighting the Taliban, and allow the Pentagon, instead of the White House, to determine how many troops are needed and where. It would bring the current number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to at least 11,400.

That plan has drawn support from defense hawks on Capitol Hill and the Republican foreign policy establishment in Washington.

“We need to break what has been described by our commander there as a ‘stalemate’, which is, after 15 years or so, an unacceptable situation that requires a new strategy, one for victory,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ).

But the plan has drawn skepticism from those inside the White House who favor winding down the U.S. presence and argue that more troops won’t resolve the war. The Obama administration’s 2009 “surge” sent 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in order to pressure the Taliban to come to the negotiating table, but once the administration began to draw down the U.S. presence, the gains reversed.


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  • OldConservativeGuy

    Notice that the kinetic plan “leaked” to the press. What is wrong with these people??? In my day “leaking” would have been cause for court marshall in the military and charges of treason or at least violation of confidentiality agreements for civilian employees. Seems to me that a few people need to follow Comey out the door. Mr. President, please get everyone together and have them practice your famous line, “You’re fired!”

  • sue lenhart

    First of all, this “war” has dragged out way too long. Time to get rid of the obviously ineffective “strategy/business as usual”. Go kinetic and HAMMER IT, involving NATO troups in the offensive. After the battle has been won, THEN assist the local govt and train. Then, keep an eye on our “pupils” to make sure that the lesson is being effectively, consistently implemented (keep accountability in the mix). Don’t vote for a “cheaper” war; chances are it will be ineffective and drag out longer than anyone expected (could this be part of the reason why we have been in Afghanistan for so long already?). Accountability is critical after victory has been won; without it the local govt and citizens will too easily revert to their old ways, and we will be back there for yet another “war”. Do it right!

  • generalJed

    We need swarms of armed drones, patrolling day and night in the hot spots. As soon as some obviously Taliban garbage shows up, pulverize them with relentless attacks. That way, none of our troops get their legs blown off or worse. Troops should be there only to arm drones, fly missions with drones, and repair drones. Waliking down existing paths like Obama forced the troops to do got them maimed or killed.

  • Howard A Milor Jr.

    Time this war is ended, crush the taliban and any other group who resist this government! We do not need another vacuum to create another ISIS!
    Remove the military restrictions and turn the troops loose! Right now you are encouraging people to join the taliban. It’s kill one recruit one if you show them it’s not productive then maybe people will stop supporting them!