Sen. John McCain criticized military strategy in Afghanistan on Monday, less than two weeks after three U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.
In a statement, McCain, R-Ariz., cited the attack, in which an Afghan soldier turned his gun on the Americans, as rationale to “turn the situation around in Afghanistan.”
“After nearly 16 years of war, we are at a stalemate in Afghanistan,” he added. “Worse, we have no strategy to end that stalemate and achieve victory.”
McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, pointed to testimony last week by Defense Secretary James Mattis, who said that the U.S. is not winning in Afghanistan.
There are 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan involved in training and advising the Afghan military — 2,000 of whom are involved in counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda and the ISIS affiliate in the country.
Last week President Donald Trump authorized Mattis to increase the military presence in Afghanistan. U.S. military commanders have recommended 2,000 to 5,000 additional troops in the country, according to American officials. Mattis has not yet made a determination on troop levels.
“We cannot keep going like this,” said McCain. “If the administration fails to develop a strategy for success, Congress will need to play a greater role.”