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McCain: Trump needs to address Afghanistan now

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Printed Date: 19-Oct-2017 at 6:39pm
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Topic: McCain: Trump needs to address Afghanistan now
Posted By: MateenK
Subject: McCain: Trump needs to address Afghanistan now
Date Posted: 03-Mar-2017 at 3:03pm
McCain: Trump needs to address Afghanistan now

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain is pushing the White House to pay attention to Afghanistan, saying presidential action is needed to keep the country from sliding into chaos.

“President (Donald) Trump and his administration must treat Afghanistan with the same urgency as the fight against (the Islamic State group), or else this stalemate risks sliding into strategic failure,” the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman said in a statement Thursday.

“Make no mistake: Afghans are fighting ferociously to defend their own country from our common enemies. But we must also recognize that America is still at war in Afghanistan against the terrorist enemies that attacked our nation on September 11th.”

Last month, U.S. Forces Afghanistan commander Gen. John Nicholson Jr. testified before McCain’s committee that he needs several thousand more troops -- either U.S. or coalition fighters -- to enable more advising and training missions and break the “stalemate” in the war-torn country. 

Defense officials have not publicly responded to that request. Afghanistan did not get a mention in Trump’s speech to Congress this week, where he promised to rebuild the U.S. military and defeat ISIS throughout the globe.

McCain praised those promises, but said Afghanistan needs to be a top priority too.

“Just yesterday, three simultaneous suicide attacks by the Taliban in Kabul killed at least 16 people and wounded 44 more,” said McCain, R-Ariz. “In northern Afghanistan, reports indicate that another district fell to the Taliban. This setback comes on the heels of disturbing losses across the country.” 

Pentagon officials plan to deploy a 300-person task force of U.S. Marines to southwestern Afghanistan this spring, a move that both McCain and Nicholson is helpful but not enough.

McCain said he wants Trump to take “the opportunity to turn the page and finally give our commanders the resources and authorities they need to seize the initiative and take the fight to our enemies.”

About 8,500 U.S. troops and another 5,000 troops from foreign allies are still stationed in Afghanistan, even though the official combat mission there ended in 2014.  

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