Mattis Warns Against US Pullout From Afghanistan, Says Afghan Forces Fully Engaged

Elias Hubbard
October 3, 2017

Joseph Dunford, right, speak with Chairman Sen.

Both officials testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Sen.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has warned that an American withdrawal from Afghanistan would be "to our ultimate peril", as he briefed Congress on plans to increase American troop levels in the war-torn country. Mattis deployed an additional 3,000 US troops to Afghanistan shortly after Trump's address to carry out this mission.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate committee that it's now a stalemate in Afghanistan. The additional troops will augment the roughly 8,400 Americans now stationed there.

Mattis said that more than 3,000 additional USA troops are being sent to Afghanistan to reinforce the 11,000 US troops already stationed in the country.

"Based on intelligence community analysis and my own evaluation, I am convinced we would absent ourselves from this region at our peril", Mattis said on October 3 during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mattis said the troop level breakdown demonstrates Afghan forces remain in charge of the fight and that the US military is "supporting them, not supplanting or substituting our troops for theirs".

On other issues, Mattis said he is in favor of the USA remaining in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with allies to halt Iran's nuclear programs, despite Trump's criticism of the deal. Angus King, an independent from Maine, whether he thinks the USA should continue to support the JCPOA, Mattis replied, "Yes, senator, I do". "But I'd rather not say the specific capabilities, the specific numbers".

President Donald Trump has called the deal the worst agreement ever negotiated by the United States.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday that the more than 3,000 additional troops being deployed to Afghanistan will effectively be on "combat duty" as they support Afghan security forces on the front lines.

Mattis says more than 3,000 additional USA troops are being sent to Afghanistan to reinforce the roughly 8,400 American forces now stationed there.

Mattis has signed off on sending at least 3,000 more soldiers to the 16-year-old war, and told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the idea is to use the new troops much like American forces are now arrayed in Iraq and Syria, where they provide advice and call in air and artillery strikes on insurgent positions. John McCain, the committee chairman, told Mattis.

"In the six weeks since the president made his announcement, this committee and the Congress, more broadly, still does not know numerous crucial details of this strategy", McCain said in opening testimony.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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