Senate panel advances Afghan war commander nominee

Senate panel advances Afghan war commander nominee
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The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved by voice vote President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE’s nominee to take over command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Scott Miller’s nomination was advanced to the Senate floor as part of a batch of 2,737 pending military nominations, according to a committee press release.

Miller had a largely friendly confirmation hearing before the committee last week, in which several senators said they expected him to be confirmed easily.

Still, he was questioned on plans to turn around the 17-year-old war.

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Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Warren suggests Mulvaney broke law by speaking to GOP donors MORE (D-Mass.) pushed Miller the hardest on the issue, quoting several past defense leaders as saying Afghanistan reached a turning point.

“We’ve supposedly turned the corner so many times that it seems now we’re going in circles,” Warren said. “So let me just ask you, do you envision turning another corner during your tenure as commander? After 17 years of war, what are you going to do differently to bring this conflict to an end?”

Miller replied by acknowledging the length of the war, saying “that’s generational.”

“I can’t guarantee you a timeline or an end date. I know that going into this position. Or offer necessarily a turning point, unless there is one, unless there’s something to report back and something has changed,” he continued.

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.

If confirmed, Miller would take over command of the war about a year into the Trump administration’s new strategy.

Last summer, President Trump announced plans that included bolstering U.S. forces in Afghanistan by a few thousand to help end a stalemate. Trump’s strategy also took away a timeline for withdrawal, saying it would be based on the conditions on the ground.

The United States has about 16,000 troops in Afghanistan on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

A three-day ceasefire earlier this month to mark Eid al-Fitr — the first ceasefire the Taliban has accepted since the war started in 2001 — raised hopes of a breakthrough in diplomatic efforts to end the war. But the Taliban did not accept the Afghan government’s offer to extend the ceasefire beyond the holiday.