Trump announces Afghanistan policy, reaction mixed - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Trump announces Afghanistan policy, reaction mixed

President Donald Trump announced what he called a "path forward" in Afghanistan during a rare prime-time address Monday night. (Source: NBC News) President Donald Trump announced what he called a "path forward" in Afghanistan during a rare prime-time address Monday night. (Source: NBC News)
Republican Senator Rand Paul (Source: WAVE 3 News) Republican Senator Rand Paul (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Republican Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (Source: WAVE 3 News) Republican Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Retired Brigadier General Rob Givens (Source: WAVE 3 News) Retired Brigadier General Rob Givens (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - President Donald Trump announced what he called a "path forward" in Afghanistan during a rare prime-time address Monday night.

But before discussing strategy, Trump referenced the attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. He said citizens owe the military peace at home, and that all parts of society need to come together.

"We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other," he said.

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President Trump then announced the United States would not be leaving Afghanistan, and would instead commit more resources.

It is a major position change for Trump, who repeatedly called for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan during the Obama administration.

He said his opinion changed in the oval office. Trump said he arrived at three conclusions about America's core interests in Afghanistan that will guide his strategy going forward.

First, he said: "Our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made."

Second, and to that end, Trump went on to say that he believes a hasty withdrawal would create a "vacuum" that terrorists would fill.

And third, as he studied the situation from different angles, he said he gained a broader perspective.

"The security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense," he said.

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Trump notably put pressure on Pakistan and said the U.S. will work more closely with India.

He said he did not want to reveal the number of troops he would add, or when changes would come. But his vagueness on those points seem to be part of his strategy.

"I will not say when we are going to attack," he said. "But attack we will."

Trump said he wants to focus on killing terrorists. He desires victory on the battlefield.

"We will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in foreign lands or try to rebuild other countries in our own image. Those days are now over," he added.

But what clearly is not over, is U.S. involvement in the conflict.

The fight in the Middle East has gone on for 16 years, making it America's longest war.

Kentucky's Junior Senator quickly spoke out against Trump's plan.

"The mission in Afghanistan has lost its purpose," Republican Senator Rand Paul said. "I think it is a terrible idea to send any more troops into that war."

Paul went on to say Congress should have a say in whether the U.S. continues the war in Afghanistan.

Senate Majority Mitch McConnell took a different tone.

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"I commend the President and his national security team for a thoughtful review of our engagement in the region," McConnell said in a statement Monday night.

"Maintaining forces in Iraq and Afghanistan protects America's national security interests, and our overseas presence should not be guided by arbitrary withdrawal deadlines," he added.

In Louisville, a local military leader also reacted to the President Trump's speech Monday night.

Retired Brigadier General Rob Givens served in the Air Force.

He was struck by how collected the speech came off, and also applauded its message.

Givens was glad to hear Trump discuss Pakistan and India's role in south Asia.

"The president actually gave a broader regional strategy which was very encouraging to hear," Givens said. "The problems in Afghanistan are not going to be solved in Afghanistan alone. He actually talked about putting pressure on Afghanistan."

Givens' other takeaway was while Trump would not reveal troop numbers or dates, he did say they would be based on how events unfold.

"The key thing to focus on is he said they would be conditions-based," Givens said. "Conditions-based events and operations is what every general has asked for over the past decade."

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