Retired Navy SEAL Adm. William McRaven, the former head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) who organized the 2011 raid that took out Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden, says the U.S. will be in Afghanistan “for a very long time.”
McRaven made the remark on Wednesday at New America’s Special Operations Forces Policy Forum in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve said we have to accept the fact — I think we do — that we’re going to be there for a very long time,” he said, Military Times reported.
“Is it forever? I don’t think anything’s for forever. But does that mean that we will lose more young men and women? Does that mean we’re going to spend [more] billions of dollars? I think it does,” McRaven said.
“And maybe that’s not a good comparison. But I do believe that if we negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban, and that settlement involves the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, that, you know, it won’t be six months or a year before all of the blood and treasure we have put into Afghanistan will have been reversed because the Taliban will come back in and do what the Taliban do,” McRaven said.
President Trump abruptly canceled a secret peace summit at Camp David with the Islamist group earlier this month after a Taliban attack killed an American soldier in Kabul. The president said the talks were “dead.”
U.S. diplomats and the Taliban were said to have come to a tentative interim peace agreement after several rounds of talks in Qatar.
“And when you think, particularly of the young ladies and the progress we have made in Afghanistan with building girls’ schools and bringing women into the political process. … I mean, these are vastly important for Afghanistan and the region,” the retired SEAL said. “I’m afraid that clock will be turned back very quickly if we negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban that really isn’t to our benefit or Afghanistan’s benefit.”
The United States has “an obligation” to lead in the region — otherwise nations like Russia and China might step up, he said.
“The world wants us to lead,” the former SOCOM boss said. “If we back out of Afghanistan and we don’t show the leadership necessary to keep Afghanistan solvent, if you will, I think that’ll be a mistake.”
Fox News’ Alex Pappas and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.
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Retired SEAL McRaven says US will be in Afghanistan for ‘very long time’
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