President Donald Trump and his national security team will discuss strategy for the war in Afghanistan Friday during a meeting at Camp David.
The White House has yet to develop a concise policy towards the 16-year conflict as warring factions within the administration attempt to influence the president’s decision.
Proposals for Afghanistan thus far are reported to include everything from sending in thousands of additional troops to simply pulling out.
The president, who repeatedly expressed frustration with the conflict during his campaign, reportedly shot down a plan developed by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster during a meeting last month calling for 3,900 more U.S. troops in the war-torn country.
“It’s clear Trump and people close to him are still saying, ‘Where are the options?’ This is too status quo,’” a former U.S. official with knowledge of the meeting told Politico Magazine.
Current and former administration officials speaking with the Wall Street Journal last month said Trump and some advisers have shown an interest in having a dramatically reduced role in Afghanistan altogether.
“It’s a macro question as to whether the U.S., this administration, and this president are committed to staying,” a senior administration official said. “It doesn’t work unless we are there for a long time, and if we don’t have the appetite to be there a long time, we should just leave. It’s an unanswered question.”
Such a move could see a larger focus on counter-terrorism with an emphasis on drone strikes and special forces groups with heavily reduced troop numbers.
“It is becoming clearer and clearer to people that those are the options: go forward with something like the strategy we have developed, or withdraw,” the senior administration official added.
Although the president granted Secretary of Defense James Mattis the authority in June to dictate troop levels in Afghanistan, the former general has opted to wait for a clear policy towards the region before moving forward with a decision.
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