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President Trump unveiled his “path forward” in Afghanistan in a nationally televised speech Monday night before a military audience at Fort Myer, Virginia.
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Cautioning against a “hasty withdrawal” from Afghanistan, President Trump outlined a revamped strategy for Afghanistan that will likely send several thousand more U.S. troops to the war that has dragged on for nearly 16 years.

Trump, who repeatedly criticized the war before he became president and once advocated full withdrawal, said in a prime-time address to troops gathered at Fort Myer, Va., that he shares the nation’s weariness of “war without victory” in Afghanistan. 

But simply withdrawing now, he continued, would leave the country vulnerable to a takeover by the kinds of violent extremists who organized the 9/11 attacks of 2001. 

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

After studying the conflict with his national security team in recent weeks, the president said he now believes the security threats the U.S. faces in Afghanistan and the region “are immense” and “a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists – including ISIS and Al Qaeda – would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11th.”

More: Analysis: Trump reverses views on Afghanistan, a war with no easy exits

More: Mike Pence: Donald Trump’s new American strategy for Afghanistan will undo past failures

The address came three days after Trump convened a high-level national security meeting at Camp David, capping a drawn-out review about how to address a…