Trump to tackle Afghanistan strategy at Camp David

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President Trump is headed to Camp David on Friday, where he will meet with his national security team to discuss the strategy on the war in Afghanistan, the White House announced Wednesday.

Vice President Pence, who was in South America as of Wednesday, will cut his trip short so he can join Trump at Camp David.

Pence had originally been scheduled to return to the United States Friday afternoon but will leave South America late Thursday instead.

The administration is working to develop a new strategy for the 16-year war in Afghanistan, the nation’s longest conflict. The strategy is expected to include how the United States will address the neighboring country of Pakistan, and whether 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops are needed to combat the Taliban, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and al Qaeda in the region.

{mosads}About 8,400 U.S. troops are currently in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday told reporters at the Pentagon that the president is “very close” to making a decision on the strategy.

“We’re sharpening each one of the options so you can see the pluses and minuses of each one so that there’s no longer any new data you’re going to get. Now [he can] just make the decision,” Mattis said.

When asked whether the options included a plan to use contracted security forces in place of sending more troops, Mattis confirmed that it’s “part of the options being considered.”

“The president is open to the advice of the secretary of State and myself and the director of the CIA,” Mattis added.

Blackwater Worldwide founder Erik Prince — the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — and DynCorp owner Stephen Feinberg last month offered proposals to White House officials to use contractors instead of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.

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