Senate confirms Trump's pick to lead US forces in Afghanistan

Senate confirms Trump's pick to lead US forces in Afghanistan
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The Senate has confirmed President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE’s pick to take over command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Scott Miller was confirmed by voice vote Thursday night as part of a batch of military nominations the Senate confirmed before heading home for a weeklong recess.

Miller’s confirmation came just hours after his nomination was advanced by the Senate Armed Services Committee and a little more than week after a largely genial hearing before the committee.

While the hearing had a friendly tone, Miller was questioned on plans to turn around the 17-year-old war.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her More Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? MORE (D-Mass.) pushed Miller the hardest on the issue, quoting several past defense leaders as saying Afghanistan reached a turning point. 

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“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 has served as the commander of Joint Special Operations Command since 2016, overseeing elite Special Mission Units such as the Navy’s SEAL Team Six and the Army’s Delta Force.

Miller will take over command of the war about a year into the Trump administration’s new strategy.

Last summer, President Trump announced a strategy 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 (ISIS). 

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.