Defense

Trump officially nominates new commander for Afghan war

President Trump has officially nominated Lt. Gen. Austin "Scott" Miller to be the next commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Miller's impending nomination was first reported by The Wall Street Journal last week.

If confirmed, Miller would replace Gen. John Nicholson, who has been in charge of the war in Afghanistan since March 2016. Miller would be the ninth U.S. general to lead the 17-year-old war.

Miller would take over command of the conflict at a time when the Trump administration's strategy is struggling to yield results.

Trump announced a new strategy last summer that included bolstering U.S. forces in Afghanistan by a few thousand to help end a stalemate, bringing the U.S. troop presence to about 14,000. Trump's strategy also took away a timeline for withdrawal, saying it would be based on the conditions on the ground.

Recently, there have been a series of high-profile Taliban attacks and dismal assessments of the war by U.S. watchdogs.

Earlier this month, the Taliban briefly overran the capital of Farah province before U.S. fighter jets drove them out. That followed a twin suicide bombing in Kabul last month that killed dozens, including 10 journalists.

The Kabul bombing prompted Defense Secretary James Mattis to temper optimistic rhetoric about the war effort.

"We anticipated and are doing our best and have been successful at blocking many of these attacks on innocent people but unfortunately once in a while they get through," Mattis said.

Also this month, the quarterly inspector general report on the U.S. mission in Afghanistan said there has been "minimal progress" in securing the Afghan population since its last report. That came after a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found high attrition in Afghan forces.

Miller is currently the commander of Joint Special Operations Command. In that capacity, he oversees the elite Special Mission Units, including the Navy's SEAL Team Six and the Army's Delta Force.

His career also includes serving as a Delta Force captain and ground force commander in the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, which was depicted in the "Black Hawk Down" book and movie. Miller was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions there.

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

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