WASHINGTON: Frustrated with US President Donald Trump’s failure to come up with an Afghan war strategy, influential Republican Senator John McCain on Thursday presented his own plan which also calls for ramping up pressure on Pakistan.
McCain who chairs Senate Arms Services Committee has long threatened to force a strategy on the Trump administration if it doesn’t come up with one soon enough to win the 16-year-old war.
The new plan involves sending more US troops in Afghanistan and allowing use of more air power to break a stalemate in the war.
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.”
“We must face facts: we are losing in Afghanistan and time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide,” Senator McCain who is recently diagnosed with brain cancer said in a statement.
Defense Secretary James Mattis had pledged that his department would give McCain an Afghan strategy by mid-July, but recent developments show that administration is deeply divided over future course of action in Afghanistan.
Trump has reportedly been so frustrated with the U.S. direction in Afghanistan that he suggested firing the four-star general overseeing the war.
The McCain plan also calls for intensifying U.S. diplomatic efforts with Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and other nations to promote political reconciliation in Afghanistan.
The proposal suggests an open-ended agreement with Afghanistan with an enduring U.S. counter-terrorism presence in the country.
The plan involves improving the abilities of Afghan forces in the short term by placing U.S. advisers and trainers at the battalion level of each Afghan corps. It will be introduced as an amendment to the annual defense policy bill.
McCain said he developed his strategy after consulting with some of the country’s most experienced and respected former military and intelligence officials.
“Adopting a new strategy for achieving America’s national security interests in Afghanistan is a decision of the highest importance, one that should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny and debate within our government,” he said.
He expressed concern over administrations’ failure in developing the strategy.
“President Obama’s ‘don’t lose’ strategy has put us on a path to achieving the opposite result. Now, nearly seven months into President Trump’s administration, we’ve had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened.
The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander-in-chief,” he said.
According to CNN, McCain’s amendment is a “sense of Congress” provision, which means it would not force the Trump administration to take any action.
But if it’s adopted in the bill, it would provide a symbolic marker that Congress wants an enduring US counter-terrorism presence in Afghanistan.