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Defense Secretary Mark Esper indicates there are no immediate plans to nuke Afghanistan
Despite President Donald Trump's constant reminders that the U.S. military could quickly and decisively win the war in Afghanistan at the cost of millions of innocent lives, the U.S. government is committed to negotiating with the Taliban rather than atomizing them.
Trump has said several times since July that he could simply destroy Afghanistan if he wanted to. Most recently, Trump stated during his Aug. 26 meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that, "I've said we can win that war in a very short period of time, but I'm not looking to kill 10 million people, okay?"
Although the president has insisted that he is not talking about a nuclear option for Afghanistan, it is unclear how else the U.S. military would be able to wipe out 10 million Afghans so quickly.
At Wednesday's Pentagon news briefing, Task & Purpose asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper if the U.S. military retains the right to use nuclear weapons against the Taliban.
"We reserve the right to keep all options on the table," Esper replied. "But, look, clearly we have a plan going forward. The key to resolve this conflict is a political agreement. We're on that path right now. We're hopeful that we can reach some type of conclusion that would result in a political agreement that can get us on the right trajectory."
When Task & Purpose asked if the president is helping ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban by repeatedly bringing up the possibility of killing millions of Afghans, Esper emphasized that the Trump administration is focused on reaching a political settlement with the Taliban that meets U.S. security needs.
"I think this administration is committed to finding a path forward that, again, achieves, certainly a few things: One, of course, being that Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists to attack the United States," Esper said. "And secondly, one that results in an intra-Afghan agreement that allows all the stakeholders there in the country to move forward on a different trajectory than what they are on now."
The U.S. military last employed a nuclear weapon during wartime on Aug. 9, 1945. At the time, the United States was the only nuclear power in the world; eight countries are now members of the nuclear club (a ninth country, Israel, has never acknowledged it has nuclear weapons but it is believed to be a nuclear power).
Following Wednesday's Pentagon news conference, arms control expert Kingston Reif tweeted that the United States has vowed not to use nuclear weapons against countries such as Afghanistan, which do not have nuclear weapons and are meeting their obligations as parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
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.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.