The first deployments of the nearly 4,000 U.S. troops being sent to Afghanistan by President Trump will arrive within a few weeks, according to a top U.S. official.
Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S commander for the Middle East, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the first troops could arrive in the country “pretty quickly” — within a few weeks or even days.
“What’s most important for us now is to get some capabilities in to have an impact on the current fighting season,” Votel told the AP.
Trump made the announcement of new troop levels in the country Monday night as part of his administration’s rollout of a new strategy to win the nation’s longest-running war. In a prime-time address to the nation, Trump walked back his earlier statement about a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, warning it would just become a “safe haven” for al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
“We are not nation-building again,” Trump said on Monday. “We are killing terrorists.”
There are roughly 8,400 troops currently stationed in Afghanistan, and about 3,900 will be sent to the country based on recommendations from the Pentagon. Trump said on Monday that his administration would not release specific details about troop level increases or “timetables” for their departure.
“We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plan for further military activities,” Trump said Monday. “Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy for now on. … I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.”
The U.S. previously had 100,000 troops in the country before President Obama reduced that number in 2010 and 2011.
“The American people are weary of war without victory. I share the American people’s frustration,” Trump said Monday. “In the end, we will fight and we will win.”