McCain, Graham Call for More Troops in Afghanistan

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called for more troops and greater authorities for the war in Afghanistan in an op-ed published in the Washington Post Monday. Their demand comes just weeks after Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US Forces-Afghanistan, told Congress that the NATO-led train, advise, and assist mission there has a “shortfall of a few thousand” troops. In their op-ed, McCain and Graham urge President Donald Trump to “treat Afghanistan with the same urgency as the fight against the Islamic State.” Trump has asked the Department of Defense for a review of military strategy in the war against ISIS, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis delivered that analysis with a new war plan on March 27. Without similar focus, McCain and Graham write, the war in Afghanistan risks becoming a “strategic failure” after 16 years of US involvement. Pointing to recent suicide attacks in the capital city of Kabul and an increase in Taliban-controlled territory throughout the country, the senators argue that the US has “settled for a ‘don’t lose’ strategy” characterized by politically motivated troop withdrawals and limited strike authorities. Making reference to “conversations with commanders on the ground,” McCain and Graham insist that “a strategy for success will require additional US and coalition forces and more flexible authorities.”