Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

Trump gives Pentagon total authority over troop levels in Afghanistan

Trump gives Pentagon total authority over troop levels in Afghanistan

Joseph Dunford, speaks as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and David Norquist, listen during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 12, 2017, in Washington.

While a similar delegation of authority to the Pentagon for Afghanistan troop levels had been expected, it had been anticipated that it would occur after the Trump administration concluded its Afghanistan strategy review.

Mattis would not say how many additional forces that he and Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top USA commander in Afghanistan, are looking to deploy.

In his statement, Mattis said that the United States can not repeat the mistakes of the past and allow Afghanistan to slip into chaos-thereby becoming a haven for terrorists to launch attacks on the American homeland or those of allied nations. Mattis said that the Taliban was surging throughout the country, and that he planned to present lawmakers with a strategy for the United States' longest running war by mid-July.

The announcement comes one day after Defense Secretary James Mattis acknowledged the U.S.is "not winning" in Afghanistan, almost 16 years after it embarked on a campaign to oust the Taliban from that country.

"The Taliban had a good year last year, and they're trying to have a good one this year", Mattis said. Rather, he explained, it ensures the Defense Department can facilitate its missions and align its commitment to the rapidly evolving security situation, giving troops greater latitude to provide air power and other vital support. Mattis confirmed the change in a Senate Appropriations hearing Wednesday, while stressing that no changes in troop numbers have happened yet. Bush scored a quick success, helping allied militant groups oust the Taliban shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks, before seeing the gains slip away as American focus shifted to the Iraq war.

"They're finally moving forward", McCain said in response to a question from The Hill, adding that national security adviser H.R. McMaster "called me up, said, 'Come over to the White House tomorrow, we'll have some good information for you, ' and he did". These include forces that are technically considered temporary even if they've been in the warzone for months. The U.S. now has 8,400 troops in Afghanistan.

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President Donald Trump has given the Pentagon new authority to decide the troop levels in Afghanistan, a U.S. official has said.

The decision to fix troop levels has been by welcomed by Afghanistan as it stated that it firms the commitment towards between the two nations.

Trump's hand-over to Mattis suggests force levels in Afghanistan will soon begin to rise again.

Mattis has repeatedly stressed that increasing the number of USA troops in Afghanistan would take place within a broader, long-term strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan. More recently, USA military leaders have testified before Congress that the U.S.is losing the war.

But mission creep in Afghanistan is still a concern, Barno added.

The Pentagon had considered a request for roughly 3,000 more troops, mainly for training and advising.

"Does Mattis do something different, or fall into the trap of the last eight years of doing the same thing but doing it better?"

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