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Mattis: Trump has made Afghanistan strategy decision after ‘rigorous’ review

August 21, 2017

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said President Donald Trump has completed a review of military strategies for Afghanistan, and that the President has made a decision.

“I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and [President Trump] did not go in with a pre-set position,” Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Jordan, according to reports. “The president has made a decision. As he said, he wants to be the one to announce it to the American people.”

The President will announce his strategy decision Monday evening at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

CBS News reported that Trump is expected to announce the deployment of more troops to Afghanistan.

Mattis did not offer any other details about the strategy for moving forward in Afghanistan.

Despite reports in June that the U.S. could send an additional 4,000 troops to Afghanistan, President Trump was reportedly considering doing the exact opposite, and removing all troops from the country.

Trump reportedly doesn’t want to be constricted by deadlines and specific numbers in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, which has been ongoing for 16 years.

Instead, the administration might reportedly reduce the number of troops there and rely more on U.S. special forces and drones.

Trump in June gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Department of Defense the power to decide whether or not, and how many, additional American troops would be sent to Afghanistan. The bulk of such a deployment would train and advise Afghans, while some would be assigned to counterterrorism missions against the Taliban and Islamic State.

There are currently about 8,400 troops in the country. Trump would be the third President in 16 years to surge troops into Afghanistan.

In 2012, Trump tweeted: “Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!”