U.S. Senators, in Kabul, Urge Filling of Vacancies

In Military and War On

KABUL, Afghanistan — A delegation of United States senators visiting Afghanistan issued a stark warning on Tuesday to President Trump to fill vacant embassy and State Department positions here in order to better address the country’s mounting military and political crises.

Led by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, the American delegation in Kabul voiced what has been a concern for months now in the absence of a permanent American ambassador. The civilian diplomatic mission here has been led by a chargé d’affaires, Hugo Llorens, who was called in from imminent retirement to help as a stopgap during a time when the Afghan government has faced political storms.

“All of us realize that it’s more than just dropping bombs that will win in Afghanistan,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said. “Secretary Tillerson needs to come to Afghanistan quickly.”

Mr. Graham described the lack of diplomatic focus as unnerving and called on the administration to appoint someone “to manage this portfolio” as well as fill many of the vacant positions in the State Department dealing with South and Central Asia.

. . .

Mr. Trump is expected to announce a troop increase of several thousand in addition to the roughly 8,800 American forces currently in Afghanistan in a dual mission of training and assisting Afghan forces and carrying out counterterrorism missions.

Pentagon officials have already hinted that the new strategy will not put a timeline on the increased military presence, essentially drawing the United States into another prolonged chapter of a war that has already dragged on for 16 years.

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