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Joe Biden wants US troops based in Pakistan to fight terrorists in Afghanistan. No, seriously. He really said that.
File this under, "It's a bold strategy, Cotton."
Former Vice President Joe Biden has suggested essentially moving U.S. troops from Afghanistan to Pakistan, whence they could launch counter-terrorism raids over the border, as needed.
Biden, who is attempting to secure the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election, mentioned his plan during Thursday night's Democratic debate in Houston.
When asked if President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 was a mistake, Biden said no and quickly changed the topic to Afghanistan.
"We can prevent the United States from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing for bases — insist the Pakistanis provide bases for us to airlift from and to move against what we know," Biden said. "We don't need those troops there. I would bring them home."
But given the Pakistani military and intelligence service's connections to the Taliban and terrorist groups, it is extremely unlikely that Pakistan would agree to host a U.S. counter-terrorism mission, said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, D.C.
Pakistan has long supported the Taliban's efforts to defeat the United States in Afghanistan, said Roggio, managing editor of The Long War Journal. Meanwhile, the Taliban continues to shelter Al Qaeda.
"American political leaders seem to have magical theories about what to do in Afghanistan and don't really want to do the heavy lifting in order to take on the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other jihadist groups there," Roggio told Task & Purpose. "The sooner American political leaders realize that Pakistan is an enemy and not an ally of the United States, the sooner we can move forward and deal with the problem."
Thursday's debate also gave Biden an opportunity to re-litigate the Obama administration's decision in December 2009 to drastically increase the number of troops to Afghanistan. Biden said he was opposed to the troop surge because he favors a more narrowly tailored mission in Afghanistan.
"The whole purpose of going to Afghanistan was not to have a counterinsurgency – meaning that we're going to put that country together. It cannot be put together. Let me say it again: It will not be put together. It's three different countries. Pakistan owns the three counties – the three provinces in the east. The point is that it's a counter-terrorism strategy."
It was not immediately clear if Biden is in favor of partitioning Afghanistan. In 2006, he co-authored an opinion piece in the New York Times calling for Iraq to be decentralized into Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish autonomous regions, but he later denied that he advocated for Iraq to be broken up.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.
Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.
"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."
That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.