Friday, 18 August, 2017

Pentagon gets authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan

Analysis from Kabul Afghanistan needs civilian investment not bombs Mattis blames Congress for poor state of US combat readiness
Saul Franklin | 15 June, 2017, 02:21

The following is a statement given by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis regarding troop levels in Afghanistan.

"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.

Reading between the lines-and while noting that the "broader strategy" is by the administration's own admission not yet strategized-it appears that what happened is that Trump was asked to set parameters for what ought to be done in Afghanistan, was presented a range of options, and upon being presented with those complex and critical choices got bored or peeved and told everyone else to do it themselves.

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

"At noon yesterday, President Trump delegated to me the authority to manage troop numbers in Afghanistan", Mattis said. However, Mattis also revealed that he hasn't yet decided whether to send in more troops.

In another congressional hearing on Tuesday, Mattis said that United States is still "not winning" the longest USA war in Afghanistan.

Mattis noted Obama's decision to declare the combat operation over at the end 2014, and then to withdrawing USA combat firepower from the Afghan military came at a time when it needed it the most, the Examiner reported.

"At one point, when we reduced our forces there, I believe in what was probably in hindsight a misguided application of our forces, we restricted them from using our air support, with some idea we would wean them off the need for it", Mattis said.

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About 13,000 U.S and coalition troops are now in Afghanistan. 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.

The decision is similar to one announced in April that applied to US troop levels in Iraq and Syria. "Which would be a waste of time, lives and money", said Dempsey, who served two tours in Afghanistan.

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

Now about 8,400 United States troops are in Afghanistan along with another 5,000 or so North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces. That decision, however, stalled amid the administration's Afghan review and a push for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to contribute more troops.

Army General John Nicholson, the top USA commander in Afghanistan, told Congress that he could use an infusion of U.S. and allied troops to bolster support for the Afghan army.

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

Jason Dempsey, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and veteran Army infantry officer, voiced similar concerns.

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