Irshad Salim — President Donald Trump has reportedly complained about NATO allies not being helpful in Afghanistan, inquired about the United States getting a piece of Afghan’s vast mineral wealth and repeatedly said the top U.S. general there should be fired.
NBC News report Trump has become increasingly frustrated with his advisers tasked with crafting a new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and recently suggested firing the war’s top military commander during a tense meeting at the White House, citing senior administration officials.
According to the report, Trump in the July 19 meeting, repeatedly suggested that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford replace Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, because he is not winning the war, an officials said. Trump has not met Nicholson, and the Pentagon has been considering extending his time in Afghanistan.
The sitrep meeting continued for nearly two hours in the White House situation room, the media outlet said and mentions Trump’s open questioning of the quality of the advice he was receiving.
During the meet, Trump reportedly criticized his military advisers seated around the table for what he said was a losing U.S. position in the war –the longest war in U.S. history. At one point, the report says, Trump directed his frustration at Mattis, saying he had given the military authority months ago to make advances in Afghanistan and yet the U.S. was continuing to lose ground.
“We aren’t winning,” Trump complained. “We are losing.”
The NBC News report says Trump vented to his national security team that the veterans told him forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have not been helpful, and he lamented that China is making money off of Afghanistan’s estimated $1 trillion in rare minerals while American troops are fighting the war, officials said. Trump expressed frustration that his advisers tasked with figuring out how the U.S. can help American businesses get rights to those minerals were moving too slowly, one official said.
China purchased mineral rights in Afghanistan a decade ago, an investment the U.S. supported at the time. Beijing has since had teams mining copper outside of Kabul.
The White House reportedly declined to comment on internal deliberations.
Trump is the third president to grapple with the 16-year war in Afghanistan which according to an estimate is costing American taxpayers almost $4 million an hour.
A decision on an Afghanistan strategy was expected more than two months ago, but it has been delayed as the president remains unsatisfied with the options.
“The president’s national security team is developing a comprehensive, integrated strategy for South Asia that utilizes all aspects of our national power to address this complex region,” said Michael Anton, spokesman for the National Security Council.
Trump’s national security team has been trying to come up with a new strategy Trump can approve. Those advisers are set to meet again to discuss the issue on Thursday at the White House.