Trump says decision on Afghanistan strategy 'very close'

McCain is seen here at an open hearing conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

McCain is seen here at an open hearing conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

But that has been a place-17 years, our longest war, I read in one of your columns.

US President Donald Trump said his administration is getting closer to making a major decision on the way forward in Afghanistan.

"President Obama's "don't lose" strategy has put us on a path to achieving the opposite result", McCain said in a statement.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said the administration was "pretty close" to a decision but weren't "going to meet some timeline if we are not ready".

Trump has resisted recommendations by the Pentagon to boost USA troop levels in Afghanistan from the current level of 8,400.

"So all I can tell you is that unless we get a strategy from you, you're going to get a strategy from us", he said.

McCain said bluntly, "We are losing in Afghanistan and time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide".

Right now, there are about 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

McCain proposed an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act advocating increased airstrike availability, ramping up training for Afghan security forces and sending more USA troops for counterterrorism operations.

The proposed amendment calls for a "long-term, open-ended" U.S. -Afghanistan partnership that includes an "enduring U.S. counterterrorism presence".

Miller watched and participated in McMaster's Afghan policy review up close for months and she believes that it has produced essentially a status-quo, stay-the-course proposal for a president unlikely to favor it.

That commitment would by necessity raise the number of US forces in Afghanistan significantly, and put those troops - even in their advising and training roles - closer to combat.

McCain's strategy also includes Pakistan, which would be subject to graduated diplomatic and military costs "as long as it continues to provide support and sanctuary to terrorist and insurgent groups". But if it passes, it would at least show the White House that there is a plan for Afghanistan that Congress would support.

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