Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Monday addressed guests at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and said U.S President Donald Trump’s administration could decide by mid-July on U.S force levels in Afghanistan.
He said no decision has been made with regard to the deployment of additional forces in Afghanistan but this decision will be part of a broader South Asia strategy to counter opposition forces.
He conceded that current insecurity in Afghanistan "is not where we want to be."
Dunford said the objective in Afghanistan and other conflict areas from West Africa to Southeast Asia is to assist a broad coalition of some 60 members in reducing the level of violence to where local forces can control the situation.
In relation to sending in more troops to Afghanistan, he said there is a “remaining threat of terrorism in South Asia” and that 17 terrorist groups operate in this region.
He said sending in more troops and tightening their strategy was also so as to “prevent a regional conflict in the region”.
“I don’t believe it is useful to have a conversation about where we have been, how much money we have spent or how long we have been in Afghanistan.
“What’s most important is articulating to the American people .. why does it matter here in the United States (that we send in more troops), we owe them that.
“We are trying to support our partners on the ground in driving the level of violence down so that local security forces can deal with security challenges with the minimal amount of international support.”
He went on to say Pakistan is the key to Afghanistan and its security and that the U.S was trying to ensure that “Haqqani does not have sanctuary in South Asia, that the Taliban don’t have sanctuary in South Asia; making sure there is a secure border between Afghanistan and Pakistan; and making sure there is effective political and military relationships between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
This comes just days after the Associated Press reported that the Pentagon plans to send almost 4,000 additional U.S troops to Afghanistan.
The AP quoted a Trump administration official on Thursday as saying more troops would be sent and the decision could be announced as soon as next week.
According to the report, the additional troops will train and advise Afghan forces. Others would be assigned to counterterror operations against the Taliban and Daesh militants.