Mattis given authority over Afghanistan troop increases ahead of new strategy
16 June, 2017, 06:00 | Author: Ora Austin
In a crisis, "I'm hoping in those few minutes he picks up the phone and calls you", Durbin told Mattis. The change was made public hours after Sen.
McCain, one of the Senate's most outspoken interventionists on foreign policy, expressed noticeable frustration with what he perceives as a failed USA military strategy in Afghanistan, telling Mattis during the hearing, "We're now six months into this administration". It makes it hard for us to support you when we don't have a strategy.
The Arizona senator also warned Mattis that senators will "start getting more vocal in our criticism" if a plan isn't delivered soon.
"We will define the way ahead, and I will set the military commitment" in Afghanistan, Mattis said in repeating an earlier statement. The current number stands at approximately 8,400.
In his testimony Thursday, Mattis said that the mission for US troops in Afghanistan "remains the same - train, advise and assist", but he indicated earlier in the week that the new strategy would emphasize airpower to ease pressure on the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. McCain said the U.S.is "not winning" in Afghanistan, and Mattis agreed.
Still, "With our allies, it would probably require residual force doing training and maintaining the high-end capability" to take out security threats, Mattis said. We will continue to work with our allies and we will ask more of them.
The Pentagon will send nearly 4,000 additional American. This is mainly a disagreement between different interventionists.
President Trump granted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to increase troop levels in Afghanistan this week, as the administration prepares a new strategy for the conflict there that has embroiled the United States for almost 16 years.
After quoting the defense secretary's assessment - "The Taliban had a good year last year, and they're trying to have a good one this year".
As I have previously written: "Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the worldwide military force in Afghanistan, noted in early February that the government is in control of only about two-thirds of the population". More troops would be contributed by other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations.
The authorized USA troop level in Afghanistan is about 8,400 but the SecDef said the current number of troops on the ground is a "little under 10,000", possibly because of overlap in troop rotations. Three U.S. soldiers were killed and another was wounded in eastern Afghanistan this weekend in an attack claimed by the Taliban. Afghan leaders endorse the idea of more USA troops, having lost significant ground to the Taliban in recent months. However, toward the end of Karzai's term, the Taliban reorganized and began to control more of the country.
Trump, who has spoken against the Afghan war, has dubbed the 2001 invasion and following occupation of Afghanistan as "Obama's war", but now his administration is sending thousands of more troops to the war-torn country, signaling a policy shift. His son, Rand Paul, became a US senator representing Kentucky in 2011 and also has been outspoken on foreign policy and other issues.
Trump has barely spoken about Afghanistan as a candidate or president, concentrating instead on crushing the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
"I think there's going to have to be an adequate ground force, but I don't think it should be primarily American", McChrystal said.
Paul's 2015 commentary is still relevant: "Why are we still at war in Afghanistan?"
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