McCain knocks Trump while unveiling Afghan strategy

President Bill Clinton and then North Korean Communist dictator Kim Jong-il in January 2001

President Bill Clinton and then North Korean Communist dictator Kim Jong-il in January 2001

"America's Armed Forces in harm's way in Afghanistan deserve leadership from Washington worthy of their service and sacrifice", he said.

Exhausted of waiting for the Trump administration to unveil a revamped strategy for the war in Afghanistan, Sen.

McCain said bluntly, "We are losing in Afghanistan and time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide".

McCain, R-Ariz., promised to present his plan as an amendment to the annual defense authorization billupon his return to Washington in September.

In another sign that Washington is thinking of getting tough on Pakistan and terror, the USA said on Friday that the ongoing review of its Afghanistan policy incorporates India and the whole South Asian region. During a committee hearing in June, he told defence secretary James Mattis that he had been confident the Trump administration would deliver a plan for Afghanistan within a month or two after taking office.

Off the battlefield, he also suggested boosting diplomatic pressure by working with some of Afghanistan's neighbors, making US aid contingent on the government hitting anti-corruption benchmarks and putting pressure on Pakistan to not aid terrorist groups.

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Right now, there are about 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). But among his plans is a proposal to integrate US military training and advisory teams at the battalion level of the Afghan armed forces known as "kandaks" - each of which has about 600 troops in it.

McCain's plan outlines short- and long-term goals that envision a significant US presence on the ground - an approach "to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a sanctuary for terrorists to plot and conduct attacks against America".

His plan calls for sending in more US combat forces, although he doesn't say how many.

US military and economic support would also be "strictly" conditioned on the Afghan government meeting benchmarks on anti-corruption and other reform efforts.

He also wants to punish neighbouring Pakistan with diplomatic, military and economic costs "as long as it continues to provide support and sanctuary to terrorist and insurgent groups, including the Taliban and the Haqqani Network". But if it passes, it would at least show the White House that there is a plan for Afghanistan that Congress would support.

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