Pentagon to present new Afghanistan strategy within weeks: United States defense chief

Trump gives Pentagon ability to set Afghan troops

Trump has delegated authority to manage the number of US troops sent to Afghanistan to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

"We'd consider issues from India and Pakistan, all the way over to Iran, because those are the bordering nations and ignoring those means you put in a strategy that has not taken into account some of the most fundamental factors that would impact on its success or failure", Mattis said, under questioning from Sen. Mattis said Wednesday, June 14, 2017, he can now set US troop levels in Afghanistan after receiving the authority from President Donald Trump.

Mattis, the former commander of all Middle East wars, said on Tuesday that the USA is not winning the war in Afghanistan.

There now are about 8,400 USA troops in Afghanistan. Mattis told McCain a strategy would be presented by the middle of July.

Despite Mattis telling the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that "we are not winning right now in Afghanistan", beating the Taliban is an unrealistic goal, Barno said.

Trump has said very little about his intentions in Afghanistan.

While he is expected to add at least a few thousand troops soon, Mattis said he will act after further consultation with other government agencies and in line with Trump's "strategic direction and his foreign policy".


Later, he said he could imagine the USA helping train Afghan security forces "years from now", even after the country is stabilized.

He said any decision to increase the number of troops would come with a change in strategy that alters the way Afghan forces are supported by global airpower, how the US interacts with the Afghan government and would take a greater regional approach to the conflict, rather than looking at Afghanistan in isolation. These forces would help the fledgling Afghan military regain parts of the country that have fallen to the Taleban since U.S. forces ended their combat mission there in 2014. Throughout his tenure, Obama's White House reviewed even small changes in USA troop levels in Afghanistan.

"This decision is part of a broader strategy we are developing that addresses our role in Afghanistan and beyond".

The Afghan government was assessed by the US military to control or influence just 59.7 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts as of Feb 20, a almost 11 percentage-point decrease from the same time in 2016, according to data released by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon was considering a request for roughly 3,000 more troops, mainly for training and advising.

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 increased fight has led to a recent string of American deaths.

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