Afghanistan

Trump told Afghanistan president he would consider troop increase

Afghan Special Forces and policemen prepare themselves for battle with the Taliban on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah capital of Helmand, Afghanistan October 10, 2016.

Afghan Special Forces and policemen prepare themselves for battle with the Taliban on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah capital of Helmand, Afghanistan October 10, 2016.  (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump told Afghanistan’s president in a call in December that he would consider sending more American troops, Afghan officials said, in a step to halt the deterioration in the country’s security.

Afghan officials say Mr. Trump—at the time president-elect—and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani talked about the security situation and relations with Pakistan and Mr. Trump asked if the Afghan leader needed more U.S. troops.

“President-elect Donald J. Trump said he would certainly continue to support Afghanistan security forces and will consider a proposal for more troops after an assessment,” according to one Afghan official briefed on the call.

Mr. Trump, who hasn’t outlined a plan for the war in Afghanistan, has inherited a difficult dilemma. He can either risk letting the security situation unravel further or again escalate U.S. involvement in a war that has dragged on for more than 15 years.

One U.S. military official said that, broadly speaking, there was a possibility that Mr. Trump would consider more troops for the mission in Afghanistan, but that it might not be one of the top priorities for the new commander-in-chief. Defense Secretary James Mattis, in his second full day on the job on Tuesday, was still assessing a variety of defense issues with which he is now confronted.

There are currently about 8,400 U.S. troops permanently stationed in Afghanistan and about 6,400 troops deployed there from North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations, according to Pentagon figures.

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