Trump Gives Mattis Authority To Send More Troops To Afghanistan - "Not Winning"

As the political situation in the Middle East continues to deteriorate, an anonymous U.S. official has alleged that President Donald Trump has given the Pentagon, the headquarters for the U.S Department of Defense, the responsibility of setting U.S. military force levels in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan War is the longest war that the U.S. has ever fought in and it has claimed the lives of over 2,380 U.S. soldiers.

An unnamed U.S. official is believed to have leaked the news to the press, reporting that the Pentagon Chief and Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, has recently gained the authority to increase or decrease the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The announcement is hardly unprecedented, with the unidentified source stating that “The White House has done the same that it did with Iraq and Syria, which is to grant the secretary of defense the authority to set troop levels.”

American troop numbers and military engagements were limited and closely monitored during Barack Obama’s tenure as president, a period that was marked by largescale U.S. military withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan. However, many U.S. military commanders have publicly decried these troop withdrawals as a critical mistake, citing the destabilizing and brutal rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), the resurgence of Al Qaeda and the resilience of the Afghan Taliban.

In a telling statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary Mattis spoke at length about the lack of progress in Afghanistan, saying: “We are not winning in Afghanistan right now. We will correct this as soon as possible.” Secretary Mattis also warned that inaction in Afghanistan could have serious effects on core U.S. security interests in the Middle East, firmly declaring that “Right now, I believe the enemy is surging…[the]Taliban had a good year last year, they are trying to have a good one this year.”

The anonymous U.S. official was unable to confirm if Secretary Mattis was intending to increase the U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan. However, Secretary Mattis’ revealing testimonial statements have led many political commentators to believe that the Pentagon will advocate a large increase in the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Unverified reports from media outlets have suggested that Secretary Mattis plans to deploy an additional 3,000 to 5,000 troops as an interim force to stabilize Afghanistan.

The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John W. Nicholson, has also given a sobering warning to the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that “We have a shortfall of a few thousand,” emphasizing how thinly spread U.S. advisors and trainers are in Afghanistan. Currently, there are believed to between 8,400 to 9,800 U.S. troops in the country, alongside 5,000 NATO troops and an unknown number of special forces and U.S. Air Force assets. The U.S. forces in Afghanistan are a temporary bulwark against the Taliban, advising elements of the Afghan military, locating high-value targets and, in some circumstance, fighting alongside local forces.

President Trump has been criticized for his administration’s lethargic attitude towards the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, with Republican Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, describing his frustration by saying: “We're now six months into this administration, we still haven't got a strategy for Afghanistan.” To stabilize Afghanistan and create long-lasting peace, U.S. policymakers must carefully examine the developing security crisis and establish a clearly defined strategy. Overall, the consequences of President Trump’s decision to delegate high-level military authority to Secretary Mattis remain to be seen.

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: YouTube

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