U.S. Senator Steve Daines, a member of the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, received a briefing from diplomatic and military officials in Afghanistan over the weekend. Daines also visited with Montana National Guard Troops deployed in Kabul.
Daines said one briefing came from U.S. Army General Austin Scott Miller, the commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Daines was told the mission is to force a political solution.
“I think everybody would like to see this conflict wind down,” Daines said of the 17 year long military presence in the Middle East. “But I don’t think this president - I can tell you General Miller – is not going to be driven by timelines.”
Daines said they are driven more by outcomes and objectives, “That will be bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table here to get a peaceful, political solution.”
Daines said the situation remains complex.
He told Montana journalists on a telephone conference call that he had dinner with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass, formerly the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey. Bass told him about the growing Russian influence in the area, particularly in Turkey.
He said the U.S. military presence remains crucial in the Middle East.
“If we’ve learned anything from the last 17 years since 9/11, it would be that a vacuum creates a place where these radicals groups form and inspire plots and actions to hit the homeland.”
Daines said he was told officials pre-emptively broke up a Middle Eastern plot that had connections to a group in New Jersey.
During this trip, Daines also visited with members of Montana’s 495th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion headquartered in Kalispell. Daines came bearing gifts, including Made in Montana Hi-country beef jerky and cookies and brownies baked by his staff.