The outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that the South Asia Strategy put in place a year ago by President Donald Trump is bringing the 17-year war to its closest ending point yet, the Western Journal reported.
“The strategy is working,” Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, told reporters. “Reconciliation progress is significant, and ultimately, wars end with a political settlement. So the progress toward reconciliation is key.”
“As part of Trump’s strategy, the U.S. has increased its troop presence from 8,400 in the final months of President Barack Obama’s term to about 16,000 today, according to congressional statistics cited by Military Times.”
“By nearly doubling the number of U.S. troops in the region, the Taliban knows it will not be able to overwhelm Afghan forces and now must consider a negotiated peace.”
“We were on a glide path to reduce our forces, and eventually to close down the mission,” said Nicholson, who was appointed by Obama. “At that time, the enemy had no incentive to negotiate, because we were leaving … the enemy believed we had lost our will to win. And all they needed to do was wait us out.”
“We have an unprecedented opportunity for peace now,” Nicholson added.
“As further evidence of the success of Trump’s new strategy, Nicholson said there were two peace offerings proposed within six months of the South Asia Strategy being implemented. Within 10 months, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered a three-day ceasefire that produced striking images of Taliban fighters taking selfies with Afghan civilians.”
“We’re seeing progress toward reconciliation,” Nicholson said. “What I would say is focus on the talking part of this…given that the traditional metrics of fighting are not explaining why the Taliban are willing to talk now.”