Mattis promises new Afghanistan strategy by mid-July

Secretary Mattis equated "winning" in Afghanistan with the Afghan government's ability to handle the enemy's level of violence, which he said will require a "residual force" of US and allied forces to train Afghan troops and maintain high-end capabilities.

US President Donald Trump has given Defence Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan.

Mattis said the Trump administration is working on a strategy; he understands the urgency; and he expects to have details by mid-July.

"We are not winning in Afghanistan right now", Mattis said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier on Tuesday.

"We are taking a regional approach to this", Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee. Some 13,000 US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops are still fighting the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the Islamic State, mostly by advising embattled Afghan forces.

The Department of Defense now believe it needs annual growth of "3 percent just to maintain the competitive level", Dunford said, adding they "need at least 5 percent for several years to come, before we can be competitive".

"But the current number of USA forces in Afghanistan are fulfilling their jobs - they're training and equipping Afghan forces".

Mattis, insisting that current United States military methods and practices are not working, vowed to streamline Pentagon operations around the world, and called for the support of Capitol Hill. To date, more than 2,300 Americans have been killed and over 17,000 wounded.

"We're now six months into this administration".

"If nothing is done to change BCA, the $52 billion we give you, we will take it back in fact in a more harmful fashion than if we didn't give it to you". "We will correct that". According to Mattis, the Afghan rebels had a good year in 2016, and now they want to get another. "We're looking at everything from the situation between India and Pakistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan; obviously Iran and that whole South Asia area".

He added that if the Pentagon doesn't come up with a strategy for Afghanistan soon, "you're going to get a strategy from us".

Appearing on Capitol Hill on Monday, Mattis put bipartisan blame on Congress for failing to lift budget caps that he said had stifled efforts to rebuild the military and improve readiness. He said the USA might want to consider a "follow-on force that is not involved in combat", similar to what the US has in Europe and South Korea.

As of February 20, a U.S. military assessment from the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction revealed that the Afghan government controls 59.7 percent of the country's 407 districts, nearly an 11 percentage-point decrease from 2016. The top commander there has told lawmakers he could use several thousand more USA troops to end the stalemate in the country.

McCain, however, listed the names of the three 101st Airborne Division soldiers who were killed Saturday and said, "Let's not ask these families to sacrifice any further without a strategy which we can then take and implement and help you".

  • Leroy Wright