Durbin on Afghanistan: 'When does it become a permanent occupation?'

The Senate's second-highest-ranking Democrat on Tuesday said Congress needs to address potential U.S. troop increases in Afghanistan, suggesting the war could “become a permanent occupation.” 

“We have to ask ourselves a question. How long will this go on? How long will it be a battle and when does it become a permanent occupation?” Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers Senate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court MORE (D-Ill.) said during an appearance on MSNBC. “That’s a question Congress needs to face." 

Durbin’s questions come amidst multiple reports that the Trump administration is weighing an expanded military effort in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and ISIS. 

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The plan officials are considering, which was first reported by The Washington Post, would provide the Pentagon with broader authority over how many troops to deploy. A Tuesday report from NBC News said the administration is considering the deployment of an additional 5,000 troops.

Durbin said it’s time to “ask some hard questions” about the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan over the last 15 years.

“We spent billions of dollars. We’ve lost thousands of American lives. We’ve been engaged in this war for over 15 years. And we are still struggling to determine how it can end favorably for the best interest of the United States and the Afghan people.”

Trump is expected to make a decision on the proposed approach before the May 25 NATO summit in Brussels.

According to the quarterly report released by the special inspector general for Afghanistan on April 30, the Taliban currently controls or contests 40 percent of the districts in Afghanistan.