Tags: Afghanistan | Donald Trump | trump | afghanistan | losing | fire | general

NBC News: Trump Says US 'Losing' War in Afghanistan, Wants to Fire Top General

Image: NBC News: Trump Says US 'Losing' War in Afghanistan, Wants to Fire Top General
U.S. troops in Afghanistan (AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 02 Aug 2017 08:58 PM

President Donald Trump is reportedly impatient with military advisers and declared in a recent meeting the United States is "losing" the war in Afghanistan, NBC News reports.

He also suggested firing Gen. John Nicholson as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in hopes of reversing course, according to senior administration official who talked to NBC.

In a two-hour meeting on July 19 in the White House situation room, Trump complained about NATO allies, asked whether the United States could get part of Afghanistan's mineral wealth and compared the advice of his top generals to that of a consult to New York's 21 Club, which lost profits in the 1980s based on bad advice.

But Trump's advisers, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, came away from the meeting frustrated as well. Mattis told the president the reason the Taliban is gaining ground against American forces in Afghanistan is because Trump has yet to give them a strategy.

Mattis' words came after Trump complained that he had given the military authority months earlier to make advances on the Taliban.

"We aren't winning," Trump reportedly said. "We are losing."

Among attendees at the meeting, according to NBC, were senior White House advisers Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, then chief-of-staff Reince Priebus, plus Mattis, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

According to one official NBC quoted, Trump's team had agreed on a strategy, but presented it to him along with other options, including complete withdrawal.

But Trump appeared more interested in a meeting he had recently conducted with veterans of the war, saying that people close to the action often know how to solve problems better than those, like the generals, who are farther away.

Trump compared the situation to the renovation of 21 Club in 1987, when the elite restaurant closed its doors and hired an expensive consultant. In the end, the consultant's only advice was to build a bigger kitchen.

The restaurant would have been better off asking the waiters what to do, he said, adding that his own business experience has shown he has better results talking to the low-ranking workers close to the job.

"The clear message if you heard the story was: high-priced consultants or high-priced anybody, expensive supposedly-big-brained people, but who are physically far from the source of the problem, often give you much worse advice than the supposedly low-ranking guys who are right there," one official told NBC.

Trump ended up making no decision, which left Mattis visibly upset, according to two Pentagon officials.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Dunford at one point offered to set up a meeting between Trump and Nicholson, the general leading the Afghanistan effort, since Trump has never met him. Mattis also defended the general's abilities, but the meeting ended with no decision on his fate.

McMaster told MSNBC on Wednesday he's known Nicholson for many years, and, "I can't imagine a more capable commander in any, on any mission."

When asked if Trump had confidence in Nicholson, McMaster replied, "absolutely."

But NBC said a Defense Department official confirmed that discussions are taking place about the general's future in Afghanistan.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, defended Nicholson, saying, "I can't think of a good reason to fire the general. I think he's done an admirable job.

"If the president doesn't listen to the generals, like Gen. Nicholson and he goes down the road that President Obama went, Afghanistan is going to collapse," Graham added. "Here's my advice to the president — listen to people like Gen. Nicholson and McMaster and others who have been in the fight."

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President Donald Trump is reportedly impatient with military advisers and declared in a recent meeting the United States is "losing" the war in Afghanistan, NBC News reports.
trump, afghanistan, losing, fire, general
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2017-58-02
Wednesday, 02 Aug 2017 08:58 PM
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