Unsurprisingly, John McCain doesn’t love Obama’s plan to end the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan.
In a statement released Monday, the Republican senator from Arizona and decorated Vietnam War veteran said “No one should mistake the Administration’s declared end of combat operations in Afghanistan with an end of our mission there. While our troops and civilians are making steady progress in supporting our Afghan partners in securing their country and defeating our common terrorist enemies, the truth is, this work remains unfinished.”
On Sunday, Obama marked the formal end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan, saying that after 13 years, the longest war in American history was coming to a “responsible conclusion.”
“For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan,” Obama said in a statement that came hours after the United States and NATO formally ended the war with a ceremony Sunday at a military headquarters in Kabul.
Obama said the ceremony marked a milestone for the nation and thanked U.S. troops and intelligence personnel for their “extraordinary sacrifices.” Approximately 2,200 American troops were killed in Afghanistan in a war that cost the U.S. $1 trillion since the initial invasion in 2001.
“We are safer, and our nation is more secure, because of their service,” he said, adding that the war effort helped the Afghan people reclaim their communities and hold historic democratic elections.
But McCain insists there’s still more work to be done. ”In order not to squander the hard-fought gains that our fellow citizens have made in Afghanistan,” McCain said, “the Administration needs to give the thousands of U.S. forces that will remain in the country beyond this year the authorities they need to train, advise, and assist our Afghan partners in finishing the mission that we undertook together after the attacks of September 11, 2001.”
Moreover, McCain warned, “The Administration must also replace its calendar-driven draw-down of U.S. forces with a plan based on conditions on the ground. If this is not done, and if the Administration insists on pulling all U.S. forces out of the country for political reasons, Afghanistan will deteriorate just as Iraq has since 2011. That would not just be a tragedy for the Afghan people; it would put the American people in far greater danger.”
Recently, McCain slammed Obama’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, calling the move illegal.
Additional reporting by NBC News’ Daniella Silva.