McCain promises Afghanistan strategy in slap at Trump administration

Sen. John McCain will introduce an amendment to the annual defense policy bill to provide a strategy for the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, the Arizona Republican said Monday, ratcheting up his criticism of the Trump administration.

“When the Senate takes up the National Defense Authorization Act in September, I will offer an amendment based on the advice of some our best military leaders that will provide a strategy for success in achieving America’s national interests in Afghanistan,” McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

McCain said that “there still is no strategy for success in Afghanistan” more than six months after President Trump’s inauguration.

“Eight years of a ‘don’t lose’ strategy has cost us lives and treasure in Afghanistan,” he added. “Our troops deserve better.”

McCain, who began receiving treatment for brain cancer Monday, has long railed against the administration’s delays in delivering Congress an Afghanistan strategy and has previously threatened to force a strategy on it if it does not provide one.

Monday’s statement is the strongest statement yet from McCain on following through on those threats after the administration failed to meet a promised deadline.

Defense Secretary James Mattis promised to deliver Congress a strategy by mid-July. But with the month nearly over, nothing has materialized.

The administration’s strategy was expected to include plans to send a few thousand more troops to Afghanistan to break what top generals have described as a stalemate.

But, according to The Wall Street Journal, some in the administration are now considering withdrawing most forces from Afghanistan amid a dispute among officials over deepening involvement in the war.

The United States has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as al Qaeda.

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