America’s longest war isn’t ending anytime soon—in fact, it’s about to expand.
President Donald Trump’s top military advisors have put forth a plan to boost U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan by 3,000 to 5,000, the Washington Post reported late Monday. The U.S. currently has 8,400 troops in Afghanistan.
“I cannot believe this is an actual headline in the 16th year of the longest war in the history of the republic,” tweeted MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes in response to the news.
I cannot believe this is an actual headline in the 16th year of the longest war in the history of the republic. https://t.co/xd505hnLEx
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) May 9, 2017
The plan also empowers the Pentagon, rather than the White House, to unilaterally decide on troop numbers and how to use those troops in the battlefield.
Furthermore, it would “give the military far broader authority to use airstrikes to target Taliban militants. It would also lift Obama-era restrictions that limited the mobility of U.S. military advisers on the battlefield,” wrote the Post.
“The plan comes at the end of a sweeping policy review built around the president’s desire to reverse worsening security in Afghanistan and ‘start winning’ again, said one U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations,” the Post reported.
The increase in American troop numbers may be accompanied by a rise in NATO troop levels as well, added the New York Times: “NATO nations would also be asked to send thousands of troops, and the precise number of American forces deployed would probably depend on what those allies were prepared to do.”
The White House has yet to approve the plan.
On Twitter, journalists, politicians, and commentators condemned the new plan. They also speculated that it could in part be an attempt to distract from Trump’s ongoing Russia scandal, and noted that Trump’s voters—many of whom supported the president’s campaign trail promises to shrink U.S. military involvement around the world—may not be pleased by the latest war news:
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) May 9, 2017
Trump restarting the Afghanistan War is classic 'Wag The Dog' — a colluding criminal desperate to change the Trump-Russia narrative. @maddow
— Bill Madden (@activist360) May 9, 2017
Under-reported today amid Yates, but a change in approach in Afghanistan that Trump base likely didn't expect https://t.co/ZBbYyyEgSi
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) May 9, 2017
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