As Trump Delays, McCain Adds Afghanistan Military Strategy To Annual Defense Bill


GOP Sen. John McCain has forwarded a military strategy for Afghanistan in the annual defense bill in response to President Donald Trump’s delay on introducing his own strategy for the region.

McCain warned Trump that, if the White House failed to release a strategy, he will move forward with his own defense legislation, come September. It appears McCain has made good on that promise a little earlier than expected with a new amendment Thursday to the National Defense Authorization Act that lays out the need for a long-term presence in Afghanistan by increasing U.S. counter-terrorism forces and U.S. air power.

“America is adrift in Afghanistan. President Obama’s ‘don’t lose’ strategy has put us on a path to achieving the opposite result,” McCain said in a statement Thursday. “Now, nearly seven months into President Trump’s administration, we’ve had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened. The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander-in-chief.”

To craft the strategy, McCain consulted with former military and intelligence officials. The strategy calls for an “integrated civil-military approach” to support local Afghan forces and increase diplomacy to forward a successful peace process. For McCain, the objective is to make sure Afghanistan no longer serves as a harbor for terrorists, which will be accomplished by granting new levels of authority to the U.S. military to target the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al-Qaida and the Islamic State, among other groups.

The idea is to force the Taliban and other terror groups to the negotiating table in Afghanistan to secure peace.

Notably, the strategy also calls for “imposing graduated diplomatic, military, and economic costs on Pakistan” because of its support for terror groups.

Although the Trump administration’s strategy was due in mid-July, dueling factions within the White House have resulted in serious delays. Trump has reportedly been completely dissatisfied with traditional suggestions of a new troop surge in Afghanistan, as the war has dragged on for the last nine years in particular without much progress at all. Currently, the Trump administration is considering a proposal to enlist private contractors to finish the job.

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