Pentagon to name new US commander for Afghanistan: report

Pentagon to name new US commander for Afghanistan: report
© Getty Images

The Pentagon will name Lt. Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller as the next commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, the ninth U.S. general to lead in the 17-year war, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Senior military officials told the Journal that Miller will replace current commander Gen. John Nicholson, who has been in charge of the Afghan war since March 2016.

ADVERTISEMENT

Miller will be the first commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan appointed under President Trump.

The three-star general has spent the past two years in charge of the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees the elite Special Mission Units. Those units include the Navy’s SEAL Team Six and the Army’s Delta Force, which perform highly classified activities.

Before that, he was a captain and ground force commander in the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, and was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions there. The battle gained widespread popular attention after it was recounted in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.”

Miller has also served in operations in Bosnia and Somalia and multiple combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

If named the new commander in Afghanistan, Miller would take the reigns as thousands of additional U.S. forces attempt to counter a Taliban insurgency renewing its push into major cities.

Trump, in August, revealed a new plan for Afghanistan that includes sending about 4,000 additional troops to the country to help end the stalemate there. The extra forces brings the number of American troops in the country, who are meant to provide military assistance, to about 14,000.

But this Monday the multiagency Lead Inspector General-Overseas Contingency Operations said the new strategy has made little progress against the Taliban.

The report to Congress by inspectors general of the Pentagon, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development said the country is still a "dangerous and volatile" place 17 years after the United States invaded.

The document cites several deadly Taliban attacks, including last week when the group overran the capital of Farah province before U.S. fighter jets drove them out.

The report seems to contradict senior Pentagon leaders who have said recently that the fight in Afghanistan has turned a corner.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said in March that he had seen signs that some elements of the Taliban are interested in talking about ending the war.

This month, Mattis sought to temper the rhetoric that the Pentagon has taken a more optimistic outlook on the country after a pair of suicide bombings in Kabul killed at least 35 people, including 10 journalists.