The Taliban sent an open letter to journalists in an effort to persuade the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan, saying the situation is “far worse than you realize,” Reuters reported on Tuesday.
“Previous experiences have shown that sending more troops to Afghanistan will not result in anything other than further destruction of American military and economical might,” the letter read.
The message comes as the Trump administration works on coming up with a new strategy to handle the nation’s longest war. About 8,400 U.S. troops are currently conducting counterterrorism operations inside Afghanistan and also training and advising the Afghan forces fighting the Taliban insurgency.
Back in mid-June, President Trump gave Defense Secretary James Mattis the authority to change the amount of U.S. forces able to deploy to Afghanistan in a move that reversed an Obama administration policy that had the president establish troop levels.
Obama had planned to draw down all but a small embassy presence in the war-torn country by the time he left office in 2017, but 8,400 U.S. troops were left in place after the Taliban returned to fill the void and now controls roughly one-third of the country.
A plan recommended by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan to add between 3,000 to 5,000 more forces reportedly has the support of Mattis and National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
Previous reports suggested that approximately 4,000 additional forces would be sent to the region, with the bulk of those forces to be tasked with training and advising Afghan forces, while a percentage would join the counter-terror mission against the Taliban and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“We have noticed that you have understood the errors of your predecessors and have resolved to thoroughly rethink your new strategy in Afghanistan,” the Taliban wrote in the letter, directly addressing President Trump. “A number of warmongering congressmen and generals in Afghanistan are pressing you to protract the war in Afghanistan because they seek to preserve their military privileges.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took a shot at Trump last week for not delivering an Afghanistan strategy, as he unveiled his own plan that calls for an “enduring United States counter-terrorism presence in Afghanistan.”
Begun just after 9/11/2001, the war in Afghanistan is known to be the longest war in U.S. history. As part of next year’s defense budget, McCain called for adding to the 8,400 American troops now deployed in Afghanistan and giving U.S. commanders greater authority to target Taliban insurgents and ISIS militants. McCain also criticized President Trump for having “no strategy” after seven months in office.
The Pentagon has been pressing the White House for up to 5,000 more troops.
In the letter, the Taliban warned President Trump that United States generals “are concealing the real statistics of your dead and crippled.”
Some Taliban leaders reportedly disagreed with publishing the letter because they believe the group is close to being able to end the war on its own terms, while the “Americans are no longer in a position to fight this never-ending war,” one Taliban official told Reuters.
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