'Violence and progress' continue to coexist in Afghanistan, says Defense Secretary Mattis

Michele Moreno
October 5, 2017

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, the top u.s. military official asserted that he believed Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had ties to terrorist groups.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testified Tuesday that the United States should remain in the Iran nuclear deal, as President Trump weighs whether to renew the controversial agreement ahead of an October 15 deadline.

"You see some of the results of releasing our military from, for example, a proximity requirement - how close was the enemy to the Afghan or the US-advised Special Forces", Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Military Times reported. The U.S.is looking for India to provide more economic and development assistance to Afghanistan.

Mattis was purposefully unclear on how many more US troops would deploy to Afghanistan - and when - saying "more than 3,000" would bolster the 11,000 now on the ground "in the coming months", although senators on the committee said the number would be about 3,500.

At the opening of the hearing, Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that the Trump administration has failed to inform Congress of the details of the new strategy in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has been waging war in Afghanistan for 16 years.

The US forces will also have more authority to employ airstrikes against the Taliban, Mattis said. This is totally unacceptable.

Setting a date certain for the draw-down of American forces was a hallmark of the Obama administration approach, which was "consistently more interested in leaving Afghanistan than in succeeding there", McCain said.

That's a really rough estimate, too, as Mattis pointed out that while he's confident he's going to get all the troops he needs from Trump, he expressed openness to asking Trump for even more troops for the war if he feels it necessary. Those extra troops will extend the US-led coalition's advisory effort, he said.

Pakistan has a last chance to give up using terrorism to further its goals before the United States initiates action against it, a top Trump administration official warned on Tuesday after a senior American general publicly blew the whistle on Pakistani intelligence agency ISI's ties with terrorist groups.

"The enemy [Taliban] is under pressure, they have a loss of leadership and have become increasingly fractious", Mr Mattis said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has denied the US' allegations.

"He also said the new strategy would be "sustainable" politically, fiscally, and militarily", since it will be carried out primarily by Afghan troops.

The strategy is to focus on a larger region that includes India, Pakistan and other surrounding countries, realign with more advisers on training and advisory support and ensure the plans are sustainable, he said.

Senators at their hearing also raised a concern that few specifics have been revealed about the Trump administration's plans to change the US strategy in Pakistan.

Other senators raised a concern that the new Afghanistan strategy won't lead to success.

Tim Kaine - a chance to wade into the weeds of the Afghanistan situation.

Other reports by Insurance News

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