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The White House is reviewing U. S. military strategy in Afghanistan – and President Donald Trump is getting advice from those who have served on the ground in the nearly 16-year conflict.
Trump met recently with a group of service members who have served in Afghanistan combat zones, then raised those Vets’ perceptions in what has been described as a contentious meeting with senior aides and advisors on the National Security Council.
According to the NBC news report on Trump’s meeting with his advisors, Trump said the Veterans had described North Atlantic Treaty Organization force members in Afghanistan as not helpful – and claimed that, while allied forces tried to stabilize the Afghanistan, China was making money mining rare minerals there.
Based on his conversation with Veterans of the Afghanistan conflict, the president indicated dissatisfaction with the current U. S. military leadership there. NBC news cites a defense official as confirming that discussions are underway at the Pentagon about the future of Gen. John Nicholson, current commander of U. S. Forces in Afghanistan and NATO’s Resolute Support mission.
Major Veteran Service Organizations, contacted by ConnectingVets.com, are withholding comment on the state of U. S. strategy in Afghanistan.
“The Administration has not yet produced a strategy for Afghanistan,” said Joe Plenzler, director of media relations for the American Legion, “so we don’t have an opinion on it. We look forward to reviewing it when it is made available.”
A representative of another major VSO tells ConnectingVets.com he believes the comments heard by the president represented personal feelings of individual service members with whom the president spoke.
An Afghanistan Veteran reached by ConnectingVets.com shared a view seemingly matching those that so stuck the president.
“I think it’s a ridiculous failure that we’re still in Afghanistan,” noted Adolfo Cisnero, 42, of Nashville, Tenn., who served there as an Arabic linguist in the 101st Airborne Division. “The new strategy should be to pack up our shit and come home.”
“When I was in Afghanistan in 2002,” the former soldier said, “our main objectives were to capture or kill Bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and others and to remove the Taliban from power. I think we’ve pretty much accomplished them, and even though the Taliban is still there, they are no longer the de facto government.”
“I would say that our biggest problem there is failing to kill the enemy because we’re concentrating too much time, money, and manpower on the theory that counter-insurgency will actually work,” said Adam Wyatt, 32, of Michigan, who served in Afghanistan as an infantryman with the 25th Infantry Division.
“It won’t work there because all that we offer as a part of “hearts and minds” they really don’t want,” he said. “We also don’t have the budget or manpower for actual COIN operations to be effective.”