Trump’s direction that the Defense Department set troop levels in Afghanistan will enable the USA military to have greater agility to conduct operations, recognizing that the military posture there is part of a broader regional context, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today.
“Daesh (IS), Al-Qaeda and the Taliban along with more than two-dozen other terror groups threaten not just the people of Afghanistan but also the United States and other nations”, Mr. Mohib said.
To meet this national interest, US forces are conducting partnered counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, while other USA forces are working with NATO’s Resolute Support mission to train Afghan security forces to shoulder their country’s security mission.
The move means it will likely be up to Defense Secretary James Mattis to decide whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan as has been recommended by US military commanders. Nicholson described the war as a “stalemate”. The Trump administration is reportedly considering increasing that number by up to 5,000.
DoD and White House officials have not publicly discussed official troop numbers for the looming surge.
Yesterday afternoon, the President directed the Department of Defense to set troop levels in Afghanistan.
But according to Mattis himself, outright military might likely won’t end the conflict. We will present this to the President in the coming weeks.
“Even though he doesn’t take direct ownership by delegating some authorities, he still takes all the risk”, said Andrew Exum, a former undersecretary of Defense under President Barack Obama. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon confirmed the news.
The United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation handed security responsibility to Afghan forces at the start of 2015, but the outcome has been brutal.
In the first eight months of 2016, Afghan forces suffered 15,000 casualties, including more than 5,000 killed. Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed as well.
“I’ve never been more proud of President Trump and his team than I am right now”.
Republican Senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, voiced his “palpable” frustration.
“I believe that we pulled out forces at a time, as you know, when the violence was lower, but we pulled them out on a timeline rather than consistent with the maturation of the government and the security forces”, he said. “It’s hard when we have no strategy to pursue”.
“It’s going to be an era of frequent skirmishing and it’s going to require a change in our approach from the last several years if we’re to get it to that position”, Mr Mattis said. Mattis acknowledged that he believed the Taliban were “surging” at the moment, something he said he meant to address.