No one should overlook the important role that U.S. contractors have played in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere since 9/11. However, there is a reason why we count on the uniformed military—and not private contractors—to defend the United States. The president needs to decide whether or not America’s vital national interests require expending more blood and treasure in Afghanistan. If not, then he should own the decision and withdraw U.S. forces. However, if Trump believes the mission in Afghanistan is vital to achieving American interests, then he should leave it in the hands of the men and women who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
Stephen Tankel is an assistant professor at American University and an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He previously served as a senior adviser for Asian and Pacific security affairs at the Defense Department. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenTankel.