By Jim DresbachAugust 23, 2017
President Donald Trump talked of attaining victory in Afghanistan, and introduced new strategies to defeat terrorism and terror organizations in an address to a national audience and Military District of Washington service members at a packed Conmy Hall on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall the evening of Aug. 21.
The president told Americans his administration will use diplomatic, economic and military tools to achieve a successful outcome in Afghanistan, change the United States' relationships with Pakistan and India and make the strategies "work effectively and work quickly."
The commander-in-chief did not announce specific Afghan deployment numbers in his address, and said part of the new strategy is to not reveal troop deployments or end dates in the Afghan theater.
The president said setting and announcing timetables for the end of military campaigns is "counterproductive."
"We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities," Trump said. "Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will."
After his inauguration, Trump ordered Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and the national security team to re-evaluate options and reform a plan of action in Afghanistan and South Asia. Trump told service members that he and the American public are frustrated with the lack of success in Afghanistan.
"But we must acknowledge the reality I am here to talk about tonight; that nearly 16 years after September 11 attacks, after the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure, the American people are weary of war without victory," the president said. "Nowhere is this more evident than with the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history -- 17 years. I share the American people's frustration."
Trump ruled out a "hasty withdrawal" from Afghanistan and said leaving the country "would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill."
As for Pakistan, Trump said the country "gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror." The president called the threats coming from the region as "immense."
"We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars, at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting," Trump said. "But that will have to change. And that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country's harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials."
Word of the presidential visit to JBM-HH was announced the morning of Aug. 20. Meetings to prepare took place the day before the speech and throughout the day of Trump's visit. The president specifically acknowledged Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander Col. Patrick M. Duggan in his opening remarks and thanked "the men and women of Fort Myer and every member of the United States military at home and abroad."
Duggan was ecstatic on how the joint base team performed before and during the address. Members of 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) served as ushers and escorts and were audience members during the event.
"I think it was a fabulous success from the whole team including The (U.S. Army) Band, The Old Guard, the garrison, the Military District of Washington and the Department of the Army Protocol," Duggan said of the presidential visit. "It was like the Super Bowl with a 24-hour notice."
Duggan said he received word that the White House wished to use Fort Myer as a location for an address during the 11 o'clock hour of Sunday morning, Aug. 20.
"What was the proudest moment (through organizing and preparing) was when the White House has confidence in a little base like Fort Myer to pull something off like this in 24 hours that just really speaks volumes about the professionalism of the Army and the Army units that are here."
Pentagram Staff Writer Jim Dresbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.