Army Lt. Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, President Donald Trump’s choice to lead American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, told lawmakers that he does not see an end to the 17-year war any time soon.
Miller emphasized the importance of an American presence in Afghanistan in order to keep terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, from expanding and acquiring capabilities to attack the U.S.
“I can’t guarantee a timeline or an end date,” Miller said at his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington on Tuesday.
Miller referenced the consequences of the speculated withdraw of troops in 2017, which he said “would’ve had negative effects on protecting our vital national interests,” emphasizing his concern of terrorist organizations emerging and expanding without a U.S. presence in the region. (RELATED: US Airstrike Kills ISIS Commander, Bodyguard In Afghanistan)
Miller provided very few details on his plan, saying he needs to fully evaluate the situation when he arrives in Afghanistan.
“To continue to do the same thing that’s been done for 17 years is not going to be acceptable. We expect some major change from you,” Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told Miller at the hearing.
Miller never imagined the U.S. would be in Afghanistan for this long, referencing his son sitting behind him who is a new platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“This young guy sitting behind me — I never anticipated that his cohort would be in a position to deploy as I sat there in 2001,” he recalled.
Miller is set to replace Army Gen. John Nicholson, who has been the top commander there since March 2016. Miller has spent nearly 20 years working in special forces, and was described as “one of the most extraordinary general officers in the United States” by lawmakers at the hearing. He was one of the first Americans deployed in Afghanistan, just a few months after 9/11.
The Pentagon expects Miller to bring an aggressive but analytical approach to the conflict, defense officials told Stars and Stripes.
Miller is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks, and deployed at the end of the summer.
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