US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017.
Trump said a rapid Afghan exit would leave
US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017. Trump said a rapid Afghan exit would leave 'vacuum' for terrorists. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:08
The pillars of Trump's Afghanistan strategy
Alleged Taliban fighters and other militants stand handcuffed while being presented to the media at a police headquarters in Jalalabad on March 6, 2018. 
Afghan police said over 17 alleged Taliban militants including two Pakistani nationals were arrested during a five-week operation in Nangarhar province. / AFP PHOTO / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA        (Photo credit should read NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)
Alleged Taliban fighters and other militants stand handcuffed while being presented to the media at a police headquarters in Jalalabad on March 6, 2018. Afghan police said over 17 alleged Taliban militants including two Pakistani nationals were arrested during a five-week operation in Nangarhar province. / AFP PHOTO / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA (Photo credit should read NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:21
The Taliban: How it began, and what it wants
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:50
Pence: Proud of US troops in Afghanistan
Now playing
00:50
Trump on Afghanistan plan: 'Attack we will'
US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017.
Trump said a rapid Afghan exit would leave
US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017. Trump said a rapid Afghan exit would leave 'vacuum' for terrorists. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:08
The pillars of Trump's Afghanistan strategy
CAMP BLESSING, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 22:  Artilerymen await coordinates before firing a 155mm Howlitzer on a Taliban position October 22, 2008 from Camp Blessing in the Kunar Province of eastern Afghanistan. Their unit, Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion of the 321 Field Artilery, has fired more than 5,900 shells since it deployed to Afghanistan less than a year ago, making it the busiest artilery unit in the U.S. Army, according to to military officers. They most often fire in support of Army infantry units battling Taliban insurgents in the nearby Korengal Valley, site of some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
CAMP BLESSING, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 22: Artilerymen await coordinates before firing a 155mm Howlitzer on a Taliban position October 22, 2008 from Camp Blessing in the Kunar Province of eastern Afghanistan. Their unit, Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion of the 321 Field Artilery, has fired more than 5,900 shells since it deployed to Afghanistan less than a year ago, making it the busiest artilery unit in the U.S. Army, according to to military officers. They most often fire in support of Army infantry units battling Taliban insurgents in the nearby Korengal Valley, site of some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
PHOTO: John Moore/Getty Images
Now playing
00:54
Trump: US in Afghanistan to kill terrorists
US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017.
Trump warned Monday that a hasty exit from Afghanistan would create a "vacuum" that would benefit America
US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017. Trump warned Monday that a hasty exit from Afghanistan would create a "vacuum" that would benefit America's jihadist foes, in a major policy address on his strategy in the 16-year conflict. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
00:42
Trump calls terrorists 'losers'
President Donald Trump speaks at Fort Myer in Arlington Va., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, during a Presidential Address to the Nation about a strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump speaks at Fort Myer in Arlington Va., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, during a Presidential Address to the Nation about a strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
PHOTO: Carolyn Kaster/AP
Now playing
01:21
Trump: Our support is not a blank check
Now playing
00:45
Trump acknowledges flip-flop on Afghanistan
PHOTO: POOL
Now playing
01:04
Trump: Love for America requires love for all
president trump afghanistan war plan troop address_00003227.jpg
president trump afghanistan war plan troop address_00003227.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:34
Trump: We produce a special class of heroes
US President Donald Trump walks by as reporters shout questions to him upon his arrival on the South Lawn at the White House on August 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Later today President Trump will be meeting from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray regarding this weekendÕs events in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump walks by as reporters shout questions to him upon his arrival on the South Lawn at the White House on August 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Later today President Trump will be meeting from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray regarding this weekendÕs events in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Now playing
02:24
Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan?
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13:  U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mattis and other Pentagon leaders testified about the proposed FY2018 National Defense Authorization Budget Request.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mattis and other Pentagon leaders testified about the proposed FY2018 National Defense Authorization Budget Request. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Now playing
01:25
Mattis: New Afghanistan strategy decided
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
01:27
US troops in Afghanistan: A history (2017)
An injured man is transported after a car bomb attack in western Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, July 24.
An injured man is transported after a car bomb attack in western Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, July 24.
PHOTO: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
00:46
Dozens killed in Kabul car bombing
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:52
Marines remaining in Afghanistan face hardship

Story highlights

Trump said he would not talk about troop levels in Afghanistan

The President said he would give the military more authority to conduct operations

(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump outlined his plan for the 16-year US war in Afghanistan Monday evening, vowing that the US would find victory while no longer “nation-building.”

The President declared he would no longer announce troop levels but would focus on allowing US forces to target the Taliban and other terrorist groups wherever they were in Afghanistan.

Here are the five key pieces of Trump’s Afghanistan plan:

Troop levels

The President is giving the Pentagon authority to ramp up troop levels in Afghanistan by several thousand, but Trump declared the US military would not talk specifically about troop levels there.

“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.”

The US currently has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, and US military generals have said that a few thousand more troops would help the US break the current stalemate against the Taliban.

The additional troops would serve in two roles: counterterrorism missions and training the Afghan forces.

Trump referenced both on Monday, talking about seeking out terrorists wherever they were and saying the US was committed to working with the Afghan government, while noting that the US support “is not a blank check.”

More military autonomy

Perhaps the biggest military change Trump announced Monday was to relax US authorities to attack the Taliban and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration placed restrictions on US offensive operations in Afghanistan after the Afghan forces took the lead on fighting the Taliban, a move that frequently frustrated commanders in the field.

“Micromanagement from Washington, DC, does not win battles,” Trump said.

He added that he would give military commanders the authority to act in real time and expand the authorities for US armed forces to target terrorists and criminal networks in Afghanistan.

“These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms,” Trump said. “Retribution will be fast and powerful.”

Political talks

The end-goal of Trump’s plan in Afghanistan was to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table to find a political solution to the Afghan war.

The goal was the same as that of President Barack Obama, but Trump argued his plan has a key difference from that of his predecessor: no timelines on the withdrawal of US troops.

“I’ve said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce the dates we intend to begin or end military operations,” Trump said.

His criticism is one that Republicans frequently raised during the Obama administration, as Obama withdrew troops down to the current level of approximately 8,400.

While Trump talked about a political solution, he also expressed skepticism the Taliban would come to the negotiating table.

“Someday after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen,” Trump said.

Changing Pakistan

Trump echoed comments from his predecessors in their desire to get Pakistan to change its terrorist-harboring ways.

Pakistan’s role in providing a safe haven for the Haqqani network has frequently been a thorn in the side of the US military.

Trump threatened to cut off US aid to Pakistan to persuade them to help fight terrorism in Afghanistan.

“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting,” Trump said. “But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.”

Trump also talked about how India, a nuclear rival of Pakistan, could contribute to the Afghan war effort. He noted the billions of dollars in trade between India and the US and said his administration wanted India to help more on Afghanistan, particularly with economic assistance and development.

Winning … but not nation-building

When Obama talked about the war in Afghanistan, he focused on bringing US troops home. Trump made clear he wants victory there.

“Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win,” Trump said. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition, attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.”

But the key thing Trump made clear to move away from — a nod to the isolationist wing of his supporters who backed a US pullout from Afghanistan — was nation-building.

“We want them to succeed, but we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in far-away lands or try to rebuild other countries in our own image,” Trump said. “Those days are now over.”

Trump said bluntly that the US was “not nation-building again.”

To finish the point, he added: “We are killing terrorists.”