pcloudy.png
Sunday May 19th, 2019 2:50PM

Trump will address path forward on Afghanistan

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CAMP MOREHEAD, Afghanistan (AP) — Signaling that the U.S. military expects its mission to continue, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Sunday hailed the launch of the Afghan Army's new special operations corps, declaring that "we are with you and we will stay with you."

Gen. John Nicholson's exhortation of continued support for the Afghans suggested the Pentagon may have won its argument that America's military must stay engaged in the conflict in order to insure terrorists don't once again threaten the U.S. from safe havens in Afghanistan.

The White House announced that President Donald Trump would address the nation's troops and the American people Monday night to update the path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.

Nicholson, speaking prior to the White House announcement, said the commandos and a plan to double the size of the Afghan's special operations forces are critical to winning the war.

"I assure you we are with you in this fight. We are with you and we will stay with you," he said during a ceremony at Camp Morehead, a training base for Afghan commandos southeast of Kabul.

The Pentagon was awaiting a final announcement by Trump on a proposal to send nearly 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The added forces would increase training and advising of the Afghan forces and bolster counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate trying to gain a foothold in the country.

The administration has been at odds for months over how to craft a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan amid frustrations that 16 years after 9/11 the conflict is stalemated.

The Afghan government only controls half of the country and is beset by endemic corruption and infighting. The Islamic State group has been hit hard but continues to attempt major attacks, insurgents still find safe harbor in Pakistan, and Russia, Iran and others are increasingly trying to shape the outcome. At this point, everything the U.S. military has proposed points to keeping the Afghan government in place and struggling to turn a dismal quagmire around.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he is satisfied with how the administration formulated its new Afghanistan war strategy. But he refused to talk about the new policy until it was disclosed by Trump.

He said the deliberations, including talks at the Camp David presidential retreat on Friday, were done properly.

"I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous," Mattis said, speaking aboard a military aircraft on an overnight flight from Washington to Amman, Jordan.

Months ago, Trump gave Mattis authority to set U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, but Mattis said he has not yet sent significant additional forces to the fight. He has said he would wait for Trump to set the strategic direction first.

Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he had made decisions at Camp David, "including on Afghanistan," but he did not say more about it. The expectation had been that he would agree to a modest boost in the U.S. war effort, while also addressing broader political, economic and regional issues.

Mattis said Trump had been presented with multiple options. He did not name them, but others have said one option was to pull out of Afghanistan entirely. Another, which Mattis had mentioned recently in Washington, was to hire private contractors to perform some of the U.S. military's duties.

At Camp Morehead, lines of Afghan commandos stood at attention as Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and a host of proud dignitaries sat under flag-draped canopies and welcomed the advancement in their nation's long-struggling military.

In short remarks to the force, Nicholson said a defeat in Afghanistan would erode safety in the U.S. and "embolden jihadists around the world."

That's why, he said, the U.S. is helping to double the size of the Afghan commando force, adding that the ceremony "marks the beginning of the end of the Taliban."

Maj. Gen. James Linder, the head of U.S. and NATO special operations forces in Afghanistan, said the nearly 4,000 troops requested by the Pentagon for Afghanistan includes about 460 trainers for his staff to help increase the size of the special operations forces.

He said he'd be able expand training locations and insure they have advisers at all the right levels, including on the new Afghan special operations corps staff.

According to a senior U.S. military officer in Kabul, increasing the number of American troops would allow the military to quickly send additional advisers or airstrike support to two simultaneous operations. Right now, the official said, they can only do so for one.

The officer said it would allow the U.S. to send fighter aircraft, refueling aircraft and surveillance aircraft to multiple locations for missions.

The officer was not authorized to discuss the details publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Afghan military commanders have been clear that they want and expect continued U.S. military help.

Pulling out American forces "would be a total failure," Col. Abdul Mahfuz, the Afghan intelligence agency chief for Qarahbagh, north of Kabul, said Saturday. And he said that substituting paid contractors for U.S. troops would be a formula for continuing the war, rather than completing it.

Mahfuz and other Afghan commanders spoke at a shura council meeting at Bagram air base attended also by U.S. military officers and Afghan intelligence officials.

Col. Abdul Mobin, who commands an Afghan mechanized battalion in the 111th Division, said any reduction in the U.S. military presence "leads to total failure."

Speaking through an interpreter, he added that operations by Afghan and U.S. special operations forces have been very effective, and that "the presence of U.S. military personnel is felt and considered a positive step for peace."

He said he'd like to see an additional 10,000 American troops in the country.

___

Burns reported from Amman, Jordan.

  • Associated Categories: Local/State News, Politics, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump will address path forward on Afghanistan
White House announces that President Donald Trump would address the nation's troops and the American people Monday night to update the path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia
4:35PM ( 15 minutes ago )
US commander in Afghanistan launches special ops corps
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan signals the U.S. military expects its mission to continue
4:24PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Comedian, civil rights activist Dick Gregory dies at 84
Dick Gregory, who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died at 84. Gregory was one of the first black standup comedians to find success with white audiences
4:24PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Publicist: Jerry Lewis, comedian, telethon host, dies at 91
Jerry Lewis, multitalented entertainer and filmmaker, dies at 91 in Las Vegas
3:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
Spain: Police think extremists planned massive bomb attack
Police in Spain think a 12-member Islamic extremist cell that staged dual vehicle attacks was plotting a much deadlier attack using explosives favored by the Islamic State group
2:34PM ( 2 hours ago )
Publicist: Jerry Lewis, comedian , telethon host, dies at 91
Jerry Lewis, multitalented entertainer and filmmaker, dies at 91 in Las Vegas
2:15PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
No bond for suspect in officers' fatal shooting in Fla.
A suspect in the fatal shooting of two police officers in Florida will be staying in jail after a judge denied him bond Sunday, saying there was probable cause for his first-degree murder charge
12:25PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Australian-British boy, 7, among Barcelona dead
Spanish authorities say they have positively identified three more victims of the van attack in Barcelona, including a 7-year-old boy who has been missing since the rampage Thursday
11:14AM ( 5 hours ago )
Grace Mugabe gets diplomatic immunity, returns to Zimbabwe
Granted diplomatic immunity by South Africa, the wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe returned home from Johannesburg on Sunday despite calls that she be prosecuted for allegedly assaulting a young model at a luxury hotel there
10:50AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
US commander in Afghanistan launches special ops corps
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan signals the U.S. military expects its mission to continue
4:24PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Comedian, civil rights activist Dick Gregory dies at 84
Dick Gregory, who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died at 84. Gregory was one of the first black standup comedians to find success with white audiences
4:24PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Eclipse eve: Millions converge across US to see sun go dark
Millions of Americans are converging on a narrow corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina to watch the moon blot out the sun Monday in the first total solar eclipse to sweep coast-to-coast in the U.S. in 99 years
4:19PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Prosecutors: Chicago slaying was part of sexual fantasy
Prosecutors say fatal stabbing of hairstylist in Chicago was part of sexual fantasy hatched online between professor and university employee
4:15PM ( 34 minutes ago )
More Wembley woes for Spurs, Chelsea reignites title defense
Marcos Alonso's double reignited Chelsea's Premier League title defense by securing a 2-1 victory over Tottenham after goalkeeper Hugo Lloris blundered to enable the champions to recover from its opening weekend loss
4:14PM ( 36 minutes ago )