McCain releases strategy for Afghanistan, preempting and rebuking Trump

Aaron Brown
August 14, 2017

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told a press briefing on Thursday that the Afghan Policy Review was still underway and that there had been a lot of conversations and negotiations with the President's national security team that also involved US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "That is why we are here and that is why we must win", said Nicholson. "The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander in chief".

The senator is undergoing treatment for a recently diagnosed brain tumor, but congressional Democrats and Republicans alike have said they will change the Senate schedule to ensure that McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is able to steer the huge $700 billion measure.

McCain's strategy, which was issued as an amendment to next fiscal year's defense bill, includes additional US troops for counterterrorism missions, allowing USA advisers to work closer to the front lines with Afghan officers and issues US commanders broader authority to target Taliban insurgents, Islamic State militants and other militias.

Meanwhile, additional U.S. Marines have been dispatched to Afghanistan to strengthen its forces in the violent Helmand province where Taliban has increased their attacks. It's been almost 16 years since the United States invaded the then Taliban-ruled country in response to the al-Qaida attacks of September 11, 2001.

The troop deployment has been held up amid broader strategy questions, including how to engage regional powers in an effort to stabilise the fractured nation. The Pentagon's plans do not call for a radical departure from the limited approach endorsed by former president Barack Obama, and several officials have credited Mr Trump with rightly asking tough questions, such as how the prescribed approach might lead to success.

But McCain has grown increasingly impatient. During a committee hearing in June, he told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that he had been confident the administration would deliver a plan for Afghanistan within a month or two after taking office.

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A media report by Politico online magazine in a separate report on Thursday said that United States and Afghan military commanders were surprised over the time President Trump was taking to announce the new United States strategy in Afghanistan at a time when the war-torn country was witnessing deteriorating security situation.

America is adrift in Afghanistan.

Simultaneously, he proposed outlining the potential benefits of a long-term US-Pak strategic partnership that could result from the latter's cessation of support to all terrorist and insurgent groups and constructive role in bringing about a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan.

After taking office in January, Trump ordered a strategic review of the situation in Afghanistan, where some 8,400 USA soldiers and 5,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops are assisting the Afghan security forces in battling an emboldened Taliban. In the long term, the US would provide "sustained support" as the Afghans improve their own capabilities, including intelligence, logistics, special forces, air lift and close air support.

McCain's approach envisions better harnessing US military and civil strengths in order to "deny, disrupt, degrade and destroy" the ability of terrorist groups to use Afghanistan as a sanctuary and then seek a "negotiated peace process" that leads to Afghan political reconciliation.

McCain's strategy also includes Pakistan, which would be subject to graduated diplomatic and military costs "as long as it continues to provide support and sanctuary to terrorist and insurgent groups". The relationship dates to the 1980s Afghan war against the Soviet Union, which had sent in more than 100,000 soldiers to support the pro-communist Afghan government.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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