Since taking office a little more than a 100 days ago, US President Trump’s Afghanistan policy has been ambiguous to say the least. Having criticised the previous administration’s handling of the Afghan crisis during the run-up to the elections, decisive action was expected, but the US government gave no indication one way or another. Now, the Trump administration has apparently completed its review of the US Afghan policy, and the new policy is not a picture of clarity either.

It calls for providing at least $23 billion a year to sustain the US-backed set-up in Afghanistan and for sending more US and NATO troops to defeat the militants that control large swathes of the countryside. While the rest of the strategy pretty much aligns with that of the previous administration – capacity building and a final negotiated solution with the Taliban – the key difference lies in the combativeness of the new administration. Not only is the US going to be sending more troops into Afghanistan, it has presented no timeline for their withdrawal, and in fact admits that the troops may be there indefinitely. If the dropping of the “Mother Of All Bombs” (MOAB) on a cave network allegedly used by the Taliban is any indication, the US is back on the ground in Afghanistan and more war-minded than the previous administration.

The lessons learned by US seem to be lost on the new regime. A deployment of an additional 100,000 troops under Obama weren’t able to stem the tide of violence and provide more security, let alone win the war. The deployment of a few thousand more troops right now will not have much effect either. While more US troops can certainly help in training the Afghan security forces better and faster, participation in active combat roles will bring back the problems seen in the height of the Afghan war – an over-reliance on US support, and the militants unwilling to negotiate with an “Afghan government propped up by US forces”. The last problem is a major one – many groups have refused to negotiate until all foreign forces have left.

An active US military presence also precludes the involvement of regional powers like Russia, China and Iran in the rebuilding and stabilising of Afghanistan, as all have problematic relationships with the US. It might suit the strategic goals of the US, but lack of regional support does not bode well for Afghan development.

With next to no details on the upcoming plan and no elucidated endgame, the US involvement in Afghanistan – already running on 16 years – may well continue for another decade or two.