There “will always be some level of violence in Afghanistan,” so the key for the coalition is ensuring that Afghan security forces can maintain control and prevent terrorists from establishing safe havens, the nominee to lead US and coalition troops in Afghanistan said Jan. 28. “We’re not trying to create a western-style society here. We’re looking at an adequate level of security to prevent the re-emergence of transnational terrorist threats,” Army Lt. Gen. John Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Multiple senators compared the situation in Iraq to that in Afghanistan, warning that too much focus on an exit strategy or ending a war is dangerous. Nicholson said Afghanistan is different because they are “a very willing and capable partner. They want us there. And they want to fight on their own behalf.” Still, he said, the US does “need to think about an enduring commitment” to the Afghans. Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he hopes to take Nicholson’s nomination to the Senate floor next week.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.