An Australian military analyst says Trump’s speech set a ”fairly low bar” in terms of success. Military strategist David Kilcullen told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that Trump isn’t seeking to promote democracy or counter corruption, but simply noted military outcomes he is trying to achieve. Kilcullen said: ”I think this is carefully shrouded in triumphalist rhetoric but it is actually quite a modest set of strategic goals.” Kilcullen said Trump’s speech sounded as if it had been written by military officers working in the White House. Trump offered few specifics, such as whether more troops would be sent to Afghanistan. The president said the U.S. would shift away from a ”time-based” approach, instead linking its assistance to results on the ground.
Kilcullen said Trump’s speech focused on fighting terrorism, rather than fighting an insurgency, and that will require more use of lethal force and a restrained approach to nation-building and economic development. A Taliban spokesman dismissed President Donald Trump’s remarks on Afghanistan. Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press, ”The whole speech was old.” He said the Taliban will come out with a more detailed response, but he is initially calling Trump’s policy outline ”unclear.”
Last week the Taliban issued a 1,600-word open letter to Trump warning against a troop surge, saying it would prolong what is already the United States’ longest war. Trump steered clear of discussing troop numbers, but said U.S. forces are in Afghanistan to win. The Taliban have also said they aren’t ready for any peace talks, at least not until the U.S. and NATO give a time frame for withdrawal – something Trump says isn’t going to happen.