Top U.S. General in Afghanistan: Enemy Believed We Lost Our Will During Obama Administration

August 22, 2018

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said on Wednesday that the enemy believed the United States lost its will to fight during the Obama administration.

Nicholson held a briefing from Kabul with reporters in the Pentagon via satellite and CNN correspondent Barbara Starr asked Nicholson about the South Asia Strategy, which was rolled out by President Donald Trump in August 2017.

Nicholson also said that there was increased communication on the development of a strategy in Afghanistan during the beginning of the Trump administration.

"At the time that I joined this mission as the last commander appointed by President Obama, we were on a glide path to reduce our forces and eventually to close down the mission, and so at that time the enemy had no incentive to negotiate because we were leaving," Nicholson said. "So in war, which is a contest of wills, the enemy believed that we had lost our will to win and that all they needed to do was wait us out."

"And so in the first months of the next administration, of the Trump administration, there was a very robust dialogue about the way forward, and I was engaged many times during that period by my change of command, provided my input," Nicholson said. "I believe the South Asia Strategy was the right approach, and now we see that approach delivering progress on reconciliation that we had not seen previously and I think that was because we clearly communicated to the enemy they could not wait us out."

Nicholson is the commanding officer of Resolute Support Mission, a NATO-led operation to train and equip Afghanistan's military to permanently take over. He also touted how U.S. allies backed up the effort by increasing troop presence after the South Asia Policy was announced, in addition to Afghans' own commitment to peace.