Trump hands to Pentagon troop level decisions on Afghanistan
Trump hands to Pentagon troop level decisions on Afghanistan
US Defense chief say he has power to set Afghan troop levels
15 June, 2017, 02:22
Defense Secretary James Mattis' new authority to manage troop levels in Afghanistan will likely mean the deployment of thousands of additional USA service members this summer. It's a break from past practice that Mattis said will enable him to more effectively manage the war effort.
"The delegation of this authority does not in itself change the force levels for Afghanistan", Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told AFP that Pentagon chief Jim Mattis can now directly adjust troop numbers, though the official would not confirm whether a new "force management level" - currently at around 8,400 - had been finalized. Mattis has warned Congress the US -backed Afghan forces were not beating the Taliban despite more than 15 years of war.
He said any decision to increase the number of troops would come with a change in strategy that alters the way Afghan forces are supported by global airpower, how the US interacts with the Afghan government and would take a greater regional approach to the conflict, rather than looking at Afghanistan in isolation. Jon Tester (D-N.M.), Mattis said that peace in Afghanistan is possible but will require the global community to "hold with it and when we reduce, we reduce based on conditions on the ground, not an arbitrary timeline". Mattis said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies are waiting for a new strategy from the additional US and the USA force commitment before publicly declaring their own.
When Obama announced that he was sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan during a speech at West Point in 2009, his decision making process had included reviews from both Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the head of US forces in Afghanistan, and the White House.
About 13,000 U.S and coalition troops are now in Afghanistan.
Mattis said that it is best for the US and the "international community that our economy depends" to see terror groups beaten back and the Afghan government arrive at a position of strength.
Mattis said in testimony Tuesday that the strategy is being developed in a broader context that includes Afghanistan's neighbors, Iran and Pakistan, as well as India. Mattis said there is a role for the State Department in putting diplomatic and economic pressure on these countries.
The Afghan government was assessed by the US military to control or influence just 59.7 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts as of Feb 20, a almost 11 percentage-point decrease from the same time in 2016, according to data released by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top USA commander in Afghanistan, has told Congress he could use an infusion of US 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 training and advising. The increased fight has led to a recent string of American deaths.
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He was charged in April 2006 with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle but the charges were later dismissed, records show. Capitol Police officers who were in Scalise's security detail returned fire and wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody.
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