“I am here tonight to lay out our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia,” he said.
The United States “must seek an honorable and enduring outcome” worthy of the sacrifices that have been made.
The consequences of a rapid exit are “both predictable and unacceptable.” Trump said that would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would “instantly fill.”
Security threats in Afghanistan and the general region “are immense.” Trump called out Pakistan for giving safe haven to “agents of chaos, violence and terror.”
In June 2011, President Barack Obama announced that 10,000 troops would come home by the end of the year, with an additional 23,000 returning by 2012. Monday night, Trump said he was given “a bad and very complex hand.” But he added that “one way or another, these problems will be solved.”
Trump said the United States must “stop the resurgence of safe havens that threaten America.”
The president also announced the “core pillar” of his new strategy, shifting from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.
Trump said he will not talk about numbers of troops or plans for further military activities. “America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out,” he said. “I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.”
Trump said he will integrate all instruments of American power, including diplomatic, economic and military.
Afghanistan, the president said, must “take ownership of their future.” “ We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists,” he said.
Trump also vowed a new approach toward Pakistan. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan,” he said. “It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”
Lastly, Trump promised military members that they would have the “necessary tools” to make U.S. strategy work.
“Micromanagement from Washington, D.C., does not win battles,” he said. “They are won in the field drawing upon the judgment and expertise of wartime commanders and frontline soldiers.”