General Nicholson said that air support to the Afghan forces would also be ramping up. That support has already been extensive in a year of major territorial gains for the Taliban insurgency. The United States Air Force reported dropping about 1,250 bombs and other ordnance in the first seven months of this year, almost twice as many as in the same period last year.
At the same news conference, the top American diplomat in Afghanistan, Hugo Llorens, said that the new commitment was a message to the Taliban that negotiation would be the only way out of the war.
“The Taliban has a choice: they can continue to kill fellow Afghans and terrorize communities in a conflict they have no possibility of winning,” Mr. Llorens said. “Or they can seek reconciliation and put an end to the war.”
Though Mr. Trump’s Afghan strategy announcement came on Monday, discussion within the administration and the Pentagon over the increase in troops had gone on for months before, including plans for how to deploy them.
On Thursday, General Nicholson characterized the new strategy in Afghanistan as defining success by conditions on the ground and not “arbitrary timelines.” And he described the Taliban as a criminal organization increasingly focused on its profit from the drug trade.
The Taliban reacted to the news conference in real time, with one Twitter account associated with the insurgents saying that the general “describes Taliban as criminals & still wants Taliban to join his rotten political process.”
After nearly 16 years of war, the new troop commitment without deadlines is also a tacit American commitment to a conflict…