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Local lawmakers react to President Trump's plan for Afghanistan

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - President Trump announced his strategy in the country's engagement with Afghanistan Monday night, saying he plans to establish a policy that would focus on the fight against terror. 

Trump now supports increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan. He says the more than 8000 troops already there "deserve a path to victory."

But he did not specify the number of additional troops to be sent. He said conditions on the ground will decide the specific strategy and troop levels. 

Deciding to continue the fight rather than pull out shows a shift in Trump's opinion since taking office. Before the presidency he supported getting out of Afghanistan. 

Trump did acknowledge this change of mind in Monday night's address. 

“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” he said. 

Senator Joe Donnelly was one of many lawmakers to react to Trump's statement. Donnelly says he hopes the president presents Congress a clear plan for achieving success in Afghanistan. 

“The mission in Afghanistan should be based on conditions on the ground. It is critically important that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists like those who planned the 9/11 attacks and those who wish to do our country and our allies harm,” said Donnelly.

Indiana Congressman Jim Banks says he is pleased to have someone in office who is ready to lead towards a win in Afghanistan. 

“As the most recently deployed member of Congress, I saw firsthand the disintegration of efforts in Afghanistan under the Obama Administration’s abrupt drawdown. We must continue taking the fight there to prevent this terrorism from returning to our shores,” Banks said. 

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski says Trump has given the American people a path forward.  

“Defeating ISIS and al-Qaeda is critical to our national security, but it is clear the current strategy in Afghanistan is not working. President Trump has presented to the American people a path forward to deny terrorists safe haven and achieve long-lasting stability in the region. I applaud the president’s decision to prioritize conditions on the ground rather than arbitrary timetables, and I will work with my colleagues to ensure our service members have the tools and resources they need to be successful in their missions.”

The Taliban also released a statement in reaction to Trump's address, saying it would keep fighting as long as U.S. troops are in the country. 

"It looks like the US still doesn't want to put an end to its longest war. Instead of understanding the facts and realities, he [Trump] still shows pride for his power and military forces," the statement said.

Trump did not give a timeline for when troops would return home. He said it is counterproductive to announce dates for beginning or ending military operations. 

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