Mattis: Trump Has Delegated Decisions On Afghan Troop Levels

Posted June 15, 2017

The United States is "not winning" the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress on Tuesday, promising to brief lawmakers on a new war strategy by mid-July that is widely expected to call for thousands more USA troops.

"We'd consider issues from India and Pakistan, all the way over to Iran, because those are the bordering nations and ignoring those means you put in a strategy that has not taken into account some of the most fundamental factors that would impact on its success or failure", Mattis said, under questioning from Sen.

Reuters reported in late April that the administration of US President Donald Trump was carrying out a review of Afghanistan, and conversations were revolving around sending between 3,000 and 5,000 US and coalition troops there.

Mattis said on Wednesday that this does not reflect any change in military strategy for the 16-year war.

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said that Pentagon chief Jim Mattis can now directly adjust troop numbers, though the official would not confirm whether a new "force management level" - currently at around 8,400 - had been finalized.

Despite Mattis telling the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that "we are not winning right now in Afghanistan", beating the Taliban is an unrealistic goal, Barno said.

"We are not winning in Afghanistan right now", Mattis said in his congressional testimony Tuesday. Mattis said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies are waiting for a new strategy from the additional US and the USA force commitment before publicly declaring their own. That's still in the works - even though troop levels and an overall strategy were supposed to be finalized before the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels, Belgium, last month.

Mattis said that it is best for the US and the "international community that our economy depends" to see terror groups beaten back and the Afghan government arrive at a position of strength.

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The Taliban controls more territory in Afghanistan than at any point after the 2001 US -led intervention that toppled the Taliban government, which harbored al Qaeda, the architects of 9/11 terror attacks.

The fight in Afghanistan remains important, the secretary said, noting that Afghanistan was the staging ground for the al-Qaida terrorists who attacked America on September 11, 2001.

Obama in 2014 declared an end the US and NATO-led combat operations in Afghanistan, and responsibilities were handed over to local forces.

"This decision is part of a broader strategy we are developing that addresses our role in Afghanistan and beyond". That decision, however, stalled amid the administration's Afghan review and a push for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to contribute more troops. Additional conversations must be had if the Pentagon decides it needs a few thousand more additional troops in coming years, he said. We can not allow Afghanistan to once again become a launching point for attacks on our homeland or on our allies.

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