President Donald Trump is expected to okay National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster’s Afghanistan strategy calling for an increase in the number of U.S. troops, multiple sources claim. While the official decision was delayed, the president’s preference was made clear during a highly-anticipated meeting at Camp David.
The development comes shortly after White House chief strategist Steve Bannon became the latest to leave in a series of big departures meant to reset the Trump Administration.
There were two, conflicting reasons given for Mr. Bannon’s exit. While reports indicate President Trump had made the decision to fire him on Friday, People’s Pundit Daily learned that Mr. Bannon submitted his resignation in writing two weeks ago on August 7.
Breitbart News confirmed he was back at the outlet he once led before the end of business day Friday, almost a full year after joining the Trump campaign on August 17, 2016.
Still, other sources say he needed to be fired before the meeting on Afghanistan at Camp David, at which President Trump’s remaining advisers led by H.R. McMaster waged a scripted debate to convince him to approve the additional troop presence.
The Afghanistan strategy Gen. McMaster crafted and pitched would okay up to 5,000 additional U.S. and NATO troops to Afghanistan and is an open-ended commitment. It was billed to President Trump as “the consensus plan,” and was supported by Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, the first and latter being former generals.
Mr. Bannon was the last real major opponent after Gen. McMaster purged America First nationalists from the National Security Council (NSC). The changes drew harsh backlash from Breitbart and President Trump’s base supporters, but he defended Gen. McMaster amid the criticism.
Even though President Trump could still decide on another course, it is “highly unlikely.”
The additional U.S. troops–no less than 4,000–will be tasked with propping up the Afghan National Security Forces, which are still struggling against the Taliban and al-Qaeda even after it became the longest war in U.S. history.
Under Barack Obama, the Islamic State became a growing presence in the war-torn country, with high-profile Taliban militants swearing allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In July, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights obtained “reliable information” that seemed to support the claim al-Baghdadi was dead, killed in an airstrike in May.
First-line and second-line commanders told the Syrian Observatory a meeting was called to appoint an “alternative successor,” but the U.S. has yet to confirm either.
As a candidate, President Trump criticized the U.S. for open-ended military commitments abroad, particularly in Iraq and for not securing a deal for the nation’s oil resources, which are now being tapped by Iran. If he was going to make any decision to reenforce the ANSF, it was believed by advisors he would look for such a sweetener.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who first met with President Trump in Riyadh back in May, suggested the U.S. could become a stakeholder in the enormous wealth buried beneath the surface of his country. There is at least an estimated $1 trillion in untapped mineral resources, including rare-earth metals, copper and iron.
The War on Terror in Afghanistan has cost America roughly 2,400 lives, scores more wounded and more than $1 trillion. The Camp David meeting took place in the wake of the latest casualty, the death of a Green Beret who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Staff Sgt. Aaron R. Butler, 27, who served in the 19th Special Forces Group, died August 16 in Nangarhar Province as a result of injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device (IED).
President Trump made it clear that if there were to be any troop surge, he wanted the U.S. to be compensated.
In July, he met with Michael Silver, the CEO of American Elements. His firm specializes in the production of advanced metals and chemicals. Mr. Silver laid out how he would put Afghanistan’s national resources to work for the United States. President Trump had decided to allow Secretary Mattis the freedom to increase troops up to just under 4,000, but the head of the Defense Department wanted less restrictions.
In the end, Gen. McMaster’s strategy for another open-ended commitment, one which brings the total of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to roughly 15,000, appears to have won the debate.