The war in Afghanistan has passed the 16-year mark, and the United States and its NATO allies are still wrangling over how to meet the need for troops to counter the resurgent Taliban and break a stalemate in the fight. (June 29)
WASHINGTON — President Trump faces a stalemate in Afghanistan, not only on the battlefield, but also inside the White House over how to end America’s longest war.
The Trump administration has delayed a decision on a troop increase for Afghanistan sought by the Pentagon, as White House advisers debate changes in the overall strategy for the war, which will mark its 16th anniversary in October.
The Pentagon has said several thousand additional troops are needed to turn the tide in a conflict it has described as stalemate: Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed army is struggling to defeat a Taliban insurgency and a growing number of Islamic State militants.
Yet some of Trump’s closest advisers are skeptical of the costly effort to prop up Afghanistan’s government, and the president himself has expressed frustration at the lack of progress in the war.
About 2,300 U.S. troops have been killed in the war. The latest casualties were two service members killed Wednesday when their convoy came under attack near Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged Trump on Thursday to “resolve the differences within his administration as soon as possible.”
McCain said in a statement that he supports Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. NBC News reported that Trump, impatient over the course of the war, suggested firing the general during a meeting at the White House on July 19. Nicholson remains in the job.
McCain said the failure in Afghanistan is a result of a lack of strategy from Washington. “Our commanders in chief, not our commanders in the field, are responsible for this failure,” he said.
Trump’s frustration is not surprising given the length of the conflict and the lack of progress, said Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. “Any president is going to feel some reluctance to fully own this war,” he said.
On top of that, several senior Trump advisers, including chief White House…