Retired Marine Gen. John Allen, an enthusiastic supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s, hinted that he supported sending more troops to Afghanistan at a Brookings Institution panel Tuesday.
“With the next president conceivably going up in the number or changing our capabilities mix … I believe we’ll hold what we’ve got,” Allen told the audience. He also repudiated the Bush and Obama administration’s handling of the war saying, “I would contend that our numbers were too small initially, and our horizon for departure was too soon.”
Allen’s name has been floated as a potential senior defense official if Clinton is able to win the presidency. Allen most recently served as President Barack Obama’s Special Presidential Envoy for the War on the Islamic State. Prior to this civilian post, Allen served as commander of both U.S. Central Command and the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.
Allen’s comments reflect Clinton’s past advocacy of a forceful U.S. role in Afghanistan. Clinton was reportedly an enthusiastic supporter of sending 40,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2009, while serving as U.S. secretary of state. Clinton also supported keeping a residual U.S. force in Iraq in 2010, after a U.S.-Iraqi troop agreement expired.
“We have invested a lot of blood and a lot of treasure in trying to help that country and we can’t afford for it to become an outpost of the Taliban and ISIS one more time, threatening us, threatening the larger world,” Clinton said in October 2015. Clinton’s comments reflect Allen’s commitment to a sustained U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and possible troop escalation if she assumed the Presidency.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has indicated his skepticism of an enduring U.S. force in Afghanistan.
“We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. We had real brilliant thinkers that didn’t know what the hell they were doing. And it’s a mess. And at this point, you probably have to stay because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave,” Trump told CNN in October 2015.
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