Trump suggests firing commander 
for not winning the war in Afghanistan

This article is more than 12 months old

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump's doubts about the war in Afghanistan has led to a delay in completing a new US strategy in South Asia, scepticism that included a suggestion that the US military commander in the region be fired, US officials said on Wednesday.

During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Mr Trump demanded that his top national security aides provide more information on a country where the United States has spent 16 years fighting against the Taliban with no end in sight.

The meeting grew stormy when Mr Trump said Defence Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, a Marine general, should consider firing Army General John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, for not winning the war.

"We aren't winning," he told them, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some officials left the meeting "stunned" by the president's vehement complaints that the military was allowing the US to lose the war.

Mr Mattis, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other top aides are putting together answers to Mr Trump's questions in a way to try to get him to approve the strategy, the officials said.

The White House had no comment on the accounts of the meeting. Another meeting of top aides is scheduled today.

Mr Trump has long been a sceptic of lingering US involvement in foreign wars and has expressed little interest in deploying military forces without a specific plan on what they will do and for how long.

Officials said he argued that the United States should demand a share of Afghanistan's mineral wealth in exchange for its assistance to the Afghan government.

But other officials noted that without securing the entire country, which could take many years, there is no way to get the country's mineral riches to market, except to Iran.


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