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Pence: Trump Favors 'Resolve and Commitment'

NBC's "Today"

By    |   Tuesday, 22 August 2017 08:40 AM

President Donald Trump sent a "message of resolve and commitment" on Afghanistan during Monday's prime-time speech, and is offering a "whole new regional strategy for South Asia," Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday.

However, he told NBC "Today" show anchor Matt Lauer that the exact number of troops are "yet to be seen" and will be based on "conditions on the ground.

"In the last administration in particular, we had a changing strategy and changing tactics on the ground," Pence said. "President Trump made it clear that conditions on the ground, a drive toward a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, will drive American policy and will drive American decisions in the region."

Pence also rejected a claim made by Steve Bannon-led Breitbart News that Trump's plan for Afghanistan is the same as former President Barack Obama's had been.

"The truth is, the last administration engaged in a short-term surge in Afghanistan and then announced a timetable for withdrawal, literally emboldening the enemies," said Pence. "When you look at Pakistan and Afghanistan, that region has 20 different terrorist organizations that are recognized by our national government. But we haven't been sending a clear signal about American commitment and resolve."

Trump, after an exhaustive review that used the input from the nation's generals and the State Department, told the people of Afghanistan that the United States is with them, while telling Pakistan and India they need to step up, said Pence.

The Pentagon in June requested 4,000 additional troops for the region, Lauer pointed out, but Pence said it still remains to be seen if that's the number that will be sent.

"What the president has decided is to deploy a sufficient number of troops, at the brigade level in Afghanistan, to assist the Afghans, who are in the lead, who are at the tip of the spear in this fight," Pence said.

The vice president, also appearing on Fox News' "Fox & Friends," commented that the United States has had "16 different strategies" in the 16 years it has been at war in Afghanistan.

"We're going to provide the resources and the military personnel and the air assets necessary to support the Afghan army's efforts to defeat the Taliban," he told Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt. "We are going to be there to destroy terrorist networks that use Afghanistan and Pakistan safe havens."

Americans heard, in Trump's speech, confidence that came from the fact that the same tactics have been used in Iraq and Syria.

"We have personnel at the brigade level that are working with Iraqi forces, and they have been driving ISIS out of Iraq, and soon we'll go all the way to drive them out of existence," Pence said.

Trump also made it clear that the rules of engagement are being changed, so American commanders on the ground can make "real-time" decisions.

"For too long in the last administration, we had artificial timelines that only emboldened the Taliban and terrorists enemies in the country," said Pence. "We also put great restraints on American military personnel and their battle against terrorist organizations."

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President Donald Trump sent a "message of resolve and commitment" on Afghanistan during Monday's prime-time speech, and is offering a "whole new regional strategy for South Asia," Vice-President Mike Pence said Tuesday.
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2017-40-22
Tuesday, 22 August 2017 08:40 AM
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