United States 'not winning' in Afghanistan, Mattis tells Congress

Lawmakers demand new strategy for 16-year war in Afghanistan if Pentagon wants to see more troops deployed

Mattis Has Officially Been Given Full Control Of The War In Afghanistan

The "Taliban was emboldened" by the Obama administration's decision to pull out forces in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday.

During Wednesday's hearing, Mattis laid some of the blame for the current situation in Afghanistan on Obama's timeline, noting that pulling forces at a predetermined pace only emboldened the Taliban and strained a government and military that wasn't ready to fight without US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation support. The administration has been reviewing its options, and Mattis told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee that the mission remains the same: to train, advise and assist Afghan forces so that they can defend their own country and "terrorists can find no haven" there.

Mattis said the decision would come in consultation with other USA government agencies in a more comprehensive approach to the conflict.

Army General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, has told Congress that he could use an infusion of USA and allied troops to bolster support for the Afghan army. In April, the president gave Mattis authority to set USA troop levels in Iraq and Syria.

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United States military commanders, who saw fragile security gains eroded under Obama-era troop draw-downs, have been pushing for a new strategy that could see thousands of additional soldiers deploy to Afghanistan to help train and advise beleaguered Afghan partners.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told AFP 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.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, during his Kabul visit yesterday, said there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan that is forcing record numbers of people from their homes.

"I don't have anything I can comment on that right now".

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Currently, there are about 8,400 USA troops and another 5,000 forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the ground in Afghanistan to train and assist the Afghan forces against the Taliban, and conduct counter-terrorism missions.

In February, General John Nicholson, who commands North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, warned that he needs "a few thousand" more troops to reverse what he called a stalemate.

That decision, however, had been stalled by a broader review by the Trump administration of Afghan policy and a push for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to contribute more troops.

The new troops, if deployed, would "provide more fire and air support to the Afghans". 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 think right now what we have to look at is what kind of capabilities do we bring to them because the Afghans have proven they will fight". "And we will correct this as soon as possible".

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