US military posture in Afghanistan in regional context: Mattis

Trump Administration officials familiar with the decision-making process say that the Pentagon will be sending "almost 4,000" more U.S. ground troops into Afghanistan soon, with the official announcement on the deployment likely to come as early as next week.

The announcement could be made to the public "as early as next week", according to the AP.

The new influx of troops is thought to be in the range of 3,000 to 5,000, according to current and former USA officials, as reported by Reuters. The current number stands at approximately 8,400. He said the US mission in Afghanistan remains the same - to train, advise and assist Afghan forces - as officials finalize a new strategy to present to.

While the Trump administration may not be going fast enough in developing a more "winning" strategy in Afghanistan for McCain's liking, it is apparent that the hawkish McCain's disagreement with Mattis and Trump is more over timing than major substantive points, including whether US troops should be in Afghanistan at all.

"We are not winning in Afghanistan right now", Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

This week Mattis told Congress that by mid-July he might have an idea of how many more US troops could be needed after the administration concludes a review of its Afghanistan strategy.

Sentor Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) asked Mattis to "define for us what winning in Afghanistan means".

This expected decision follows on the heels of President Donald Trump's move to grant Mattis the authority to set troops levels in Afghanistan. "Not winning" means we're losing, yet how likely is it that the United States military, effectively under the command of retired General Mattis, is going to shift gears completely and withdraw?

But over time the caps kept rising to meet the need for additional troops as the scope of the mission kept growing. More troops would be contributed by other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations.

Yet when it comes to the Afghan war, it appears Trump may be seeking to evade responsibility even as he delegates the specifics of strategy and troop levels to his "civilian" Secretary of Defense, retired General James Mattis.

Though the invasion wrested control of most of the country from the Taliban, bin Laden fled the country and went into hiding in Pakistan until captured and killed by US special forces in 2011.

The decision to drop a 21,000-pound bomb, known as the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), in eastern Afghanistan in April did nothing to change the trajectory of a conflict that, from the American perspective, has been heading in the wrong direction.

Afghanistan is America's longest war, beginning in 2001.

Paul's 2015 commentary is still relevant: "Why are we still at war in Afghanistan?"

  • Leroy Wright