McCain calls for 'reassessment' of Afghan pullout
McCain said Afghan forces were sustaining too many casualties for a quick departure of American forces, according to the Associated Press.
“With the rise of ISIS and the distinct fighting season that is marked this year, the threat environment continues to evolve in ways that clearly, in my view, demands a reassessment of the administration’s current calendar-driven drawdown of U.S. forces with a plan that must be driven by conditions on the ground,” McCain said while visiting Kabul.
McCain cited the durability of the Taliban and the growing threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as reasons to rethink the pending withdrawal.
American and international troops are no longer serving in combat roles in Afghanistan, instead training Afghan forces.
McCain’s remarks come as many global coalition forces are planning their own drawdowns for 2016.
He added that the needs of Afghanistan’s military should dictate how much support it receives from foreign combat personnel.
Afghan lawmakers also rejected a nominee for their nation’s defense minister Saturday. Masoom Stanekzai received a mere 84 votes out of a necessary 107 parliamentary confirmation.
Stanekzai is the former head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a negotiating body that tried brokering lasting harmony with the Taliban.
He has been serving as Afghanistan’s defense minister in an acting capacity. The position has been vacant for over nine months.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited Washington, D.C., last March and addressed a joint session of Congress.
He thanked the U.S. for helping protect his nation from extremist violence during his remarks.
“We owe a profound debt to the 2,315 servicemen and women killed and the more than 20,000 that have been wounded in service to your country and ours,” Ghani said on March 25.
“We have made great sacrifices, we Afghans, but then it is our patriotic duty to do so,” he added. “Thank you for staying with us.”
President Obama delayed the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan following Ghani’s visit.
The U.S. is now keeping 9,800 American troops there through the end of 2015. That number is nearly double the 5,500 personnel he had previously planned.