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Top US Commander In Afghanistan: We Won't Be Seeing A Military Victory
In the week before President Donald Trump's reported decision to abruptly withdraw 7,000 U.S. service members from Afghanistan, the top U.S. commander there all but admitted that the 17-year-old war there will not end with a military victory for the Pentagon.
"This fight will go until a political settlement," Army Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the Resolute Support mission there, told CNN when asked whether the Afghan campaign against the Taliban had reached a stalemate. "These are two sides that are fighting against one another, and neither one of them will achieve a military victory at this stage."
In the same interview, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass concurred with Miller's assessment, cautioning that U.S. and Afghan officials will face a complicated diplomatic situation given the Talian's aggressive rejection of the current administration in Kabul.
"We have an opportunity today that we didn't have six or 12 months ago to see if it's truly possible to achieve that political settlement," Bass told CNN. "We don't know if we're going to be successful. We have to see if the Taliban is interested in responding to the deep desire of the Afghanistan people for peace."
Bass isn't wrong: Kabul’s chief negotiator had met with the U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 18, just days before news of a potential Afghan withdrawal broke. During his own confirmation hearing in June, Miller stated that the "military component" of the Trump administration’s conditions-based strategy is only necessary "to provide space for political progress."
But with Trump's reported plans to potentially remove all U.S. forces from the country by the presidential election of 2020, the prospect of an especially conciliatory Taliban now seems like a laughable fantasy without a robust, U.S.-backed Afghan security force to keep up the pressure on militants.
Indeed, Miller attempted to build up the performance of the ANDSF in his conversation with CNN. "I like how the Afghan national security forces are performing," he said. "This is an Afghan fight. Resolute Support provides support, and we enable them, but make no mistake, the Afghans are in the lead."
That statement came just weeks after the nominee to lead U.S. Central Command, Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr, told lawmakers that the ANDSF would essentially collapse in the event of a U.S. military withdrawal.
“Their losses have been very high,” McKenzie told lawmakers at the time. “They’re fighting hard but their losses are not going to be sustainable unless we correct this problem."
In response to news of the potential withdrawal, the Afghan government said in a terse statement it "will not affect the security situation in any way."
Just days later, the Taliban killed 43 people at a government compound during a brazen daytime attack in the capital of Kabul.
The U.S. military will build 'facilities' to house at least 7,500 adult migrants, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to construct the facilities, said Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Chris Mitchell.
Defense officials will brief President Donald Trump's national security team on a plan that involves sending 5,000 more troops to the Middle East to deter Iran, Task & Purpose has learned.
So far, no decisions have been made about whether to send the reinforcements to the region, unnamed U.S. officials told CNN's Barbara Starr.
"The military capabilities being discussed include sending additional ballistic missile defense systems, Tomahawk cruise missiles on submarines, and surface ships with land attack capabilities for striking at a long range," CNN reports. "Specific weapons systems and units have not been identified."
The Navy warship forged from World Trade Center steel has returned to New York for the first time in years
The thousands of sailors, Coasties and Marines who descend on New York City every year for Fleet Week are an awesome sight to behold on their own, but this year's confab of U.S. service members includes a uniquely powerful homecoming as well.
When an Air Force major called J.J. completed a solo flight in the U-2 in late August 2016 — 60 years after the high-flying aircraft was introduced — he became the 1,000th pilot to do so.
J.J., whose name was withheld by the U.S. Air Force for security reasons, earned his solo patch a few days after pilots No. 998 and No. 999. Those three pilots are in distinguished company, two fellow pilots said this month.
"We have a pretty small, elite team of folks. We're between about 60 and 70 active-duty pilots at any given time," Maj. Matt "Top" Nauman said during an Air Force event at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.
"We're about 1,050 [pilots] right now. So to put that in context, there are more people with Super Bowl rings than there are people with U-2 patches," Nauman added. "It's a pretty small group of people that we've hired over the last 60 to 65 years."
In what appear to be his first public remarks on U.S. national security since his resignation as Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis offered a word of caution to President Donald Trump amid escalating tensions with Iran on Tuesday.
"The United States should buy time to keep peace and stability and allow diplomats to work diplomacy on how to keep peace for one more hour, one more day, one more week, a month or a year," Mattis said during remarks in the United Arab Emirates.
"Iran's behavior must change," Mattis added, "[but] the military must work to buy time for diplomats to work their magic."