U.S. senators currently visiting Afghanistan are urging President Donald Trump to staff empty diplomatic positions as the war reaches a stalemate.
Hugo Llorens, who was asked to hold off on retirement to help the Afghan government struggle through military and political crises, is leading the U.S. diplomatic mission, and senators in a bipartisan delegation visiting the country are hoping that Llorens will receive strong support soon in the form of new staffers, The New York Times reports.
“All of us realize that it’s more than just dropping bombs that will win in Afghanistan,” GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday.
However, there is no permanent American ambassador to Afghanistan, which Graham called “unnerving,” along with other empty Department of State positions regarding South and Central Asia.
Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse noted that the military is concerned about the “hollowing out of the State Department.”
However, a permanent ambassador alone won’t fix the problem of an extremely high staffer turnover rate. Many U.S. diplomats head to Afghanistan for no more than a year and then leave for their next assignment before truly understanding nuances on the ground well enough to execute their tasks.
In the meantime, more strain has been placed on the political relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan, primarily because the Taliban has regained an incredible amount of territory since 2014, despite the war reaching its sixteenth year. The government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is under increasing pressure to fold because of a complete lack of any reforms or any progress in the fight against the Taliban — and in some cases even a reversal.
For his part, GOP Sen. John McCain said that the U.S. doesn’t really have the proper tactics needed to win the war in Afghanistan.
“We need to have a strategy to win. The strongest nation on Earth should be able to win this conflict, and we are developing the strategy to do that. And we are frustrated that strategy had not been articulated yet, to be honest with you,” McCain said.
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