A shift away from nation building towards the fight against terrorism is how US President Donald Trump is describing the new American approach to the mission still underway in Afghanistan. There has certainly been a rhetorical shift, though what will change in practice is still unclear. 

The new strategy was concocted in the White House but follows many of the suggestions made by General John Nicholson, the head of US forces in Afghanistan and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. The most significant points of the new strategy are the addition of 3,000 troops to the 8,000 already stationed in the country and the concurrent removal of some of the restrictions on the use of force; a plan for withdrawal based on the meeting of objectives in the field rather than on a pre-established timetable; a tougher approach to Pakistan matched by a greater involvement of India; and finally the strengthening of the Afghan security apparatus.

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