US Defense chief say he has power to set Afghan troop levels

Randolph Lopez
June 15, 2017

The decision from the White House comes the same day [Secretary of Defense James] Mattis told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee that "we are not winning" in Afghanistan.

President Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to set USA troop levels in Afghanistan, a US official tells NPR's Tom Bowman. Other officials had disclosed the decision Tuesday evening.

"We're not winning in Afghanistan right now".

Mattis will soon present the new strategy to Trump.

The top US commander in Afghanistan told Congress in February that thousands more troops would be needed to break out of the current "stalemate".

Highlighting the continuing security challenges in Afghanistan, three US soldiers were killed in the eastern part of the country last weekend, with a fourth wounded, according to the Pentagon.

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The Pentagon had considered a request for roughly 3,000 more troops, mainly for training and advising. That decision, however, has been stalled by the broader administration review of Afghan policy and a push for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to contribute more troops.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has established a branch in Afghanistan's Khorasan province, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups remain active inside Afghanistan, and the Taliban continue to pose a challenge to the democratically elected government there, the secretary noted. The increased fight has led to a recent string of American deaths.

Forced from power after USA troops invaded in October 2001, the Taliban have been resurgent, increasing their hold on numerous areas of the country and inflicting heavy losses of Afghan security forces.

Halting the Taliban's momentum would "require a change in our approach from the last several years", he said. We don't know; campaign-trail Trump would only give word salad-esque answers on the subject, and the rhetoric has only gotten muddier since. I'm fighting as hard as I can to increase defence spending. Mattis said there is a role for the State Department in putting diplomatic and economic pressure on these countries. What's clear is that, on his own, he won't be able to establish new interagency points of contact within the US government or task USA diplomats with establishing greater regional cooperation where there has been little for the previous decade and a half.

"The delegation of this authority, consistent with the authority President Trump granted me two months ago for Iraq and Syria does not, at this time, change the troop numbers for Afghanistan", he said.

"It is not", Dunford said.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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