WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., stand behind President Donald Trump for recommitting the United States to the war in Afghanistan.
Trump unveiled his new strategy Monday night at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia. While the president did not offer specifics, Trump said the United States will move away from its “time-based approach” to one focused on operational success and the commitment of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America,” Trump said. “We must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists, and being used against us, or anywhere in the world for that matter.”
Trump did not divulge state the number of troops that will be dispatched, but said Secretary of Defense James Mattis and military leaders would have expanded authority in the best actions to take in the 16-year-old conflict.
Capito, who said in a statement she had just returned from the Middle East, said she supported Trump’s direction in addressing terrorism.
“I understand the threats that these regions pose to our national security and recognize that it is in our interest to work together to combat terrorism and stabilize Afghanistan,” she said.
Jenkins said the United States has already made a significant investment in the handling of Afghanistan, both in terms of lives lost and financial resources dedicated to the war.
“The American people, I think, recognize the president has put a very powerful team around him in terms of advisors,” he said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“To have General Mattis — who everybody recognizes is a strong leader, a bold leader — that is somebody we have a lot of confidence in.”
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 2,200 Americans have died in the war in Afghanistan since troops first arrived in October 2001.
A September 2016 Brown University study found the United States has already spent $783 billion in the conflict.
Jenkins, who sits on the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee and whose son is in the Marine Corps, said he is “conscious” in the investments the United States government has already made in the Middle East as a whole.
“We’ve made a commitment of our troops and we need to be supporting them,” he said.
Trump also laid out plans to address the relationship with Pakistan, a country American leadership has recognized as an ally but also previously criticized for its handling of the Taliban. Osama bin Laden was found in Pakistan before his May 2011 death.
A July 2017 report from the U.S. Department of State stated Pakistan failed to constrain the ability of the Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network.
“No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials,” Trump said. “It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.”
Trump also acknowledged his previous statements of wanting to withdraw military from Afghanistan, saying decisions are “much different” once one takes office.
Senior U.S. officials told NPR that Trump is expected to deploy 4,000 troops to Afghanistan. There are an estimated 8,400 troops currently in the country.