The two top national security officials in the Trump administration – Secretary of Defense James Mattis and national security adviser HR McMaster – are trying to secure long-term US ground and air combat roles in the three long-running wars in the greater Middle East – Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Proposals for each of the three countries are still being developed, and there is no consensus, even between Mattis and McMaster, on the details of the plans. They will be submitted to Trump separately, with the plan for Afghanistan coming sometime before a NATO summit in Brussels on 25 May.
But if this power play succeeds in one or more of the three, it could guarantee the extension of permanent US ground combat in the greater Middle East for many years to come – and would represent a culmination of the “generational war” first announced by the George W Bush administration.
It remains to be seen whether President Donald Trump will approve the proposals that Mattis and McMaster have pushed in recent weeks.
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