Trump authorises U.S. military to set troop levels in Afghanistan

Elias Hubbard
June 26, 2017

But SASC chairman Sen.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testifies on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

The development came just hours after Mattis gave lengthy testimony to lawmakers, some of whom were exasperated at how long it has taken for Trump to come up with a new strategy in Afghanistan. According to Mattis, the Afghan rebels had a good year in 2016, and now they want to get another.

The Pentagon has called for $574 billion in general defense funding, with an additional $65 billion for supplemental wartime spending - for a total of $639 billion. John McCain, R-AZ, told Mattis that he is frustrated with the amount of time it's taking for the administration to unveil its plan.

But McCain's frustration bubbled over when he asked why there is still no strategy for winning in Afghanistan.

The new strategy in Afghanistan would include a regional approach, Mattis said, including more contributions from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Another priority for the new strategy would be to reduce Afghan casualties by "more effectively assisting" Afghan ground forces through increasing U.S. fire and air support, Dunford said.

Since the USA struck with its "mother of all bombs" earlier this year, ISIS has largely avoided assembling in large concentrations, so the official said additional targeting is needed. "All I can tell you is that unless we get a strategy from you, you're going to get a strategy from us". "We're putting it together now - and there are actions being taken to make certain that we don't pay a price for the delay". "But we recognize the need for urgency and your criticism is fair, sir". But he also sounded a bit annoyed when he said Congress needs to see a plan on how the USA can move forward in Afghanistan.

US President Donald Trump has given Defence Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan.

That represents a more than US$50 billion increase - about 10 per cent - over 2017 funding levels for the base budget, although it amounts to only about three per cent over projections previously envisioned by the Obama administration. I was confident that, within the first 30 to 60 days, we would have a strategy on which to start working.

Mattis assured him that that the current regime will son brief them about the policy on Afghanistan by mid-July. "The frustration that I feel is obviously palpable. That is true in Afghanistan where, after 15 years of war, we face a stalemate and urgently need a change in strategy, and an increase in resources if we are to turn the situation around", he said.

Mattis acknowledged the reality on the ground.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Monday he's "shocked" by the decline in United States military readiness and placed the blame squarely on Congress. Despite support from the committee, Mattis said "Congress as a whole has met the present challenge with lassitude, not leadership". "I don't think that's a helluva lot to ask". But he rejected as "wild fantasy" a media report that the Pentagon might propose sending up to 50,000 additional troops.

Reed said that the president has so far provided no guidance on how to do away with the budget caps.

The defense secretary also warned that North Korea has become the most urgent threat to peace and security, and said - without giving details - that America must do things differently in Afghanistan.

This sets the stage for United States commanders to begin sending more forces to Afghanistan, after years of reductions made in the hope that Kabul could handle internal threats on its own. We believe that is guidance.

Reed told Mattis that "the budget that's submitted will not work".

Mattis also pitched for allying with Afghan forces to fight against the extremists.

Aaron Mehta is Associate Editor and Senior Pentagon Correspondent for Defense News.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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