President Trump came out in support of national security adviser H.R. McMaster on Friday, stating, “General McMaster and I are working very well together. He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.”
Then on Saturday, McMaster turned around and supported President Trump’s strategy on winning the war in Afghanistan, letting people know via an exclusive interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, “The president’s already made some important decisions on Afghanistan.”
McMaster further noted that the reason the public has not yet heard the details of Trump’s comprehensive plan for Afghanistan, is because — unlike former President Barack Obama — this administration is working on the premise that it’s not a wise idea to telegraph their intentions.
However, McMaster assured that Trump has already made “a number of decisions” on the military approach there, and he has also authorized the Pentagon to take the lead on a number of military decisions during his administration.
McMaster noted that Trump’s loosening of restrictions on the military was seeing results. “The president has said that he does not want to place restrictions on the military that undermine our ability to win battles in combat,” McMaster explained. “He has lifted those restrictions, and you’re beginning to see the payoff of that as well.”
When it comes to strategy, we’ve only heard it “in pieces”, he said, adding, “And what we’re endeavoring to do is pull this all together in a regional strategy that makes sense.”
McMaster also added that the White House wants to see a “change in behavior” from interested groups in the region, particularly Pakistan. The top aide said that while Pakistan has taken “great losses” fighting the Taliban, they have done so “selectively.”
“This is Pakistan in particular that we want to really see a change in– and a reduction of their support– for– these groups,” he said. “I mean, this is– of course, you know, a very paradoxical situation, right, where Pakistan is taking great losses.”
McMaster acknowledged that even though Pakistan has “fought very hard against these groups, they’ve done so really only selectively.”
Trump is making it clear that the U.S. will no longer tolerate any support for the Taliban or related groups, said McMaster, adding that he also expects to see a change in behavior of those in the region, “which includes those who are providing safe haven and support bases for the Taliban.”
The campaign in Afghanistan has been “tremendously successful”, said McMaster, giving out just a sliver of information: “It’s an unreported campaign in Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan,” before effectively switching off of the topic of strategy.
“We’re not gonna talk tactics anymore, right?” he said, noting that Obama’s way of waging war has ended now that Trump is at the helm.
“Everything before was, you know, troop levels and very specific details announcing to the enemy years in advance exactly the number of troops you’re gonna have, exactly what they’re gonna do and what they’re not gonna do. And so the president has said, that ‘That is not the way to fight a war. It never has been.’ This is an invention of recent years.”
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