Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

U.S. to make Afghanistan troop announcement in weeks: Mattis

U.S. to make Afghanistan troop announcement in weeks: Mattis

That's according to Graham, who told Fox News Radio that the new strategy is one he is "very excited about".

Defence Secretary James Mattis told Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defence that the President had delegated him complete authority over the number of troops, as he had previously done for the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Mattis, however, sees progress being made.

When asked what "winning looks like, " Mattis replied that it would mean a long-term USpresence and Afghan security forces that were capable enough to control violence at local levels.

It has been 15 years since USA forces were first deployed to Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks, making it the nation's longest-running war. The U.S. now has 8,400 troops in Afghanistan.

Trump's decision was announced on June 14, the same day Mattis delivered a blunt assessment of the war in Afghanistan to lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"Afghanistan welcomes the decision by president Trump to give Defence Secretary General James Mattis the authority to set U.S. military troop levels in Afghanistan, a development that underscores the United States' strong commitment to our two countries' long-term joint efforts to defeat common enemies and bring about peace and stability", Afghanistan's Ambassador to America Hamdullah Mohib said.

"The delegation of this authority does not in itself change the force levels for Afghanistan".

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In a statement released after the new authorities granted to Pentagon by President Trump regarding the Afghanistan war, Mattis said "This will enable our military to have greater agility to conduct operations, recognizing our military posture there is part of a broader regional context".

During a visit to Afghanistan in April, the secretary of defense explained that the goal of renewed coalition efforts in the country would be to pressure the Taliban to come to the negotiating table.

"It certainly could be interpreted as the president kind of distancing himself from these profound decisions and specifically from what we're doing in Afghanistan", she added.

The Pentagon is reportedly considering deploying an extra 3,000 to 5,000 troops - some of whom would come from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies - in Afghanistan to help train and advise local forces fighting the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis blamed the Obama administration Wednesday for the withdrawal of USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in 2014 that he said allowed the Taliban to regroup in Afghanistan. He said he expects allied nations to contribute additional support troops as well.

Trump has said very little about his intentions in Afghanistan. At a House Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this week, Mattis said the additional forces would likely come from the Army, to provide additional advisers and trainers for the Afghans. The decision, however, was ultimately controversial because with the announced surge, Obama also gave a timeline for when US forces would begin withdrawing from the country.

Obama ended the US combat role in Afghanistan in 2014. He said the Taleban was surging throughout the country, and he planned to present lawmakers with a strategy for the US' longest running war by mid-July.

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