General McMaster stresses that the new Afghanistan strategy is not a time-based approach but an “outcome-based approach.”
At the today’s press briefing, when asked about President Trump’s comments on the new U.S. strategy in Southeast Asia, specifically his description of an “honourable and enduring outcome,” General McMaster stated athat the number one priority was the “safety and security of the American people”. The second was having a sound regional strategy, not one that will only last a year. He mentioned that there have been 16 1-year strategies in Afghanistan in the past, and how the new administration is shifting from this by now pursuing an “outcome-based strategy instead of a time-based strategy”.
Further, he criticized past approaches to the conflict in Afghanistan, saying “talking to the Taliban and telling them we’re leaving at the same time, how would that ever work?”. He explained this as a “fundamental shift in the strategy”. Again he emphasized the importance on acting on a conditions-based as opposed to a time-based strategy in Afghanistan.
Later, General McMaster was asked a question on similar grounds, regarding what the U.S. administration would consider “winning” in Afghanistan. The response from General McMaster was winning in Afghanistan is “allowing Afghanistan to be Afghanistan, not to create a state in the U.S. Image”. The primary objective is to get rid of terrorist groups, and create a “sustainable outcome”, that ensures safety and security.
General McMaster also spoke to the Pakistan facet of this new strategy, saying the administration has raised the question of “how can others do more?”. In terms of sharing more of the burden and the responsibility of alleviating conflict and the threat of terror in the region. Trump’s initial speech on the new strategy said the following about shifting the tone of relations between the U.S. and Pakistan: “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”
He ended questions saying the administration and the president’s priorities are to ensure American people abroad and at home are safe and secure from terrorists.
The Press Briefing also spent a significant portion of time discussing the new round of Venezuela sanctions issued earlier today. In terms of military action, a topic President Trump has mentioned in the past, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, General McMaster said “no military actions anticipated in the near future”.