President Donald Trump told reporters at his club in New Jersey on Thursday that his administration is getting close to a decision on updated strategy for the war in Afghanistan.
“We’re getting close. We’re getting very close,” he said. “It’s a very big decision for me. I took over a mess and we’re going to make it a lot less messy.”
The comments came amid Trump’s meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
The strategy for America’s longest war has been a hotly debated topic inside the Trump administration for months now. Though officials promised an updated strategy earlier this year, a decision has yet to be announced.
Speaking to reporters in July, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the administration was “pretty close” to a decision but weren’t “going to meet some timeline if we are not ready.”
McMaster, the President’s top national security aide, has recommended increasing the number of US troops deployed to bolster American forces in the country. But that approach contrasts with Steve Bannon, the President’s chief strategist, who has long advocated for less involvement in Afghanistan. Bannon has clashed with McMaster and the National Security Council over the matter.
Trump’s administration is balancing future action in Afghanistan with the President’s past statements, including promises during the campaign to get the United States out of foreign conflicts.
“We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan,” Trump tweeted in 2013. “Their government has zero appreciation. Let’s get out!”